Immigration Crackdowns Scaring Away Agricultural Labor

Immigration Crackdowns Scaring Away Agricultural Labor

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that a federal crackdown on the enforcement of immigration laws is particularly affecting the economies of rural towns by scaring away immigrant workers and causing cutbacks in the production of hand-harvested produce. In response, California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have attempted to revive Feinstein’s 2013 “blue card” visa proposal, which would give legal immigration status and even a path to citizenship to immigrant farmworkers. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., plans to introduce a companion bill in the house. Although the bills are unlikely to be successful, it highlights how the loss of immigrants has had a negative impact on the California economy. UC Davis estimates that about 70% of California’s 560,000 immigrant farmworkers have no legal immigration status, which has made them justifiably fearful, given the current political climate with respect to immigration. For instance, one mushroom farmer recounts how an immigration raid on a neighboring grower in Pennsylvania effectively scared away all of his workers in the state. Likewise, he has had to cut production 12 percent in California and 15 percent in Illinois due to a shortage of workers to harvest mushrooms. This is the case even though this farmer pays his workers about $16 per hour, plus benefits. The Los Angeles Times reports that farmworkers make about $30,000 per year, on average, which is about half of the state’s median income rate. Aside from the Feinstein proposal, California growers and farmworker unions have taken some steps to protect their farmworkers from deportation. For example, unions and growers have agreed to direct federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to farm administrative offices before allowing them to simply enter the fields where workers are located. While there are many valid defenses to deportation, you need an experienced California immigration attorney who can assist you and your family with this often complex process. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we know how to stand up for the rights of those who are legally entitled to remain in the U.S. Call us today at (510) 756-4468 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.
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