“Washington apple growers could have had one of the best apple harvests in the state’s history — if not for the lack of workers. Orchard owners say a federal immigration crackdown and extreme anti-immigrant laws in states like Alabama and Arizona have scared off many of their workers.
Some farmers have tried to hire domestic workers. Orchards have “pickers wanted” signs, and growers have asked neighbors for extra workers. But their efforts have been unsuccessful to replace the immigrant farm workers they typically hire. So just like farmers inAlabama and Georgia, their crops will go to waste without without the experienced workers to pick the apples by hand:” Read more …
"FARMERS IN ALABAMA are in revolt against the state’s over-the-top immigration law, which is designed to hound illegal immigrants so that they move elsewhere. As it happens, a substantial portion of farm workers there, as in other states, are undocumented. In the farmers’ view, the law is depriving them of steady, experienced labor — and threatening to deal a lethal blow to crops throughout the state.
The uproar has exposed political fault lines within the Republican Party, whose vows of support for business have run headlong into its crusade to drive away illegal immigrants, on whom agribusiness relies. It’s also laying bare the nation’s hypocrisy over unskilled immigrants, whose legal entry into the country is blocked in most cases even though their labor remains much in demand." Read more…
Department of Justice steps in to block South Carolina's anti-immigrant law
Elena Lacayo of the NCLR writes: "On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against South Carolina to block the implementation of SB 20, a divisive and dangerous anti-immigrant law signed by Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) earlier this year. If SB 20 does take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, the law will create a new $1.3 million immigration enforcement unit for South Carolina and provide local law enforcement with overly broad authority to investigate residents' immigration statuses. As NCLR (National Council of La Raza) has repeatedly pointed out in the past, when other states attempted to pass similar bills, these anti-immigrant laws not only promote racial profiling and discrimination, but also violate the Constitution." Read more …
Immigrants bring “new ideas, new perspectives and new talent to our workforce. To reverse the decades-long trend of economic decline in this city, we need to think globally.”
Those are the comments of Dayton, Ohio Mayor Gary Leitzell explaining why his city has adopted a plan encouraging immigrants to come to the city to help pull it out of its economic tailspin.
Dayton has lost thousands of jobs and 15 percent of its population. It hopes immigrant entrepreneurs will help rebuild and grow the city’s small business and restore the city’s neighborhoods.
Dayton’s viewpoint on immigration is countered by states like Alabama, where a new law allows police to detain indefinitely anyone suspected of being in the state illegally and requires schools to check the status of new students. Read more …
Here’s a Capitol riddle for you: Representative Lamar Smith, one of the most reflexively anti-immigrant hard-liners in Congress, is sponsoring a bill to flood the agriculture sector with up to half-a-million visas for guest workers. Understand why and you’re well on your way to unpacking the nation’s dysfunctional relationship with undocumented immigrants.
Mr. Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a bill to require every employer in the country to use E-Verify, the federal hiring database, and fire the workers it flags as unauthorized.
He says it will give American jobs back to Americans. But it has angered small-business owners, who know a job-killing regulation when they see one. And it has enraged the farm industry, where more than half of the work force is undocumented. Thus the need for Mr. Smith’s second bill, the American Specialty Agriculture Act.
A well-designed agricultural guest worker program is not a bad idea. Even when unemployment is above 9 percent, Americans don’t want to stoop in the fields anymore.
But this is an awful guest worker bill. It would create a system that is far worse than the current cumbersome guest worker program. It would let growers pay even lower wages and weaken the rules on providing workers with housing and reimbursing their travel expenses. Growers would get a break on having to certify that they tried to hire Americans first. Oversight would shift from the Labor Department, with its pesky insistence on wage-and-hour protections, to the Department of Agriculture, which has never run a program like this before. Read more …
In Alabama, lawful immigrants, U.S. citizen Latinos and agricultural businesses are suffering as a result of the state's new law targeting undocumented immigrants.
"Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, the nation’s harshest, went into effect last month (a few provisions have been temporarily blocked in federal court), and it is already reaping a bitter harvest of dislocation and fear. Hispanic homes are emptying, businesses are closing, employers are wondering where their workers have gone. Parents who have not yet figured out where to go are lying low and keeping children home from school."
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