By JENNIFER MEDINA MARCH 29, 2014
HURON, Calif. — When Chuck Herrin, who runs a large farm labor contracting company,
I.e., he's in the illegal alien procurement business, a pimp.
looks out at the hundreds of workers he hires each year to tend to the countless rows of asparagus, grapes, tomatoes, peaches and plums, he often seethes in frustration.
It is not that he has any trouble with the laborers.
Thank God for that. We can't have stoop laborers getting uppity.
It is that he, like many others in agriculture here, is increasingly fed up with immigration laws that he says prevent him from fielding a steady, reliable work force.
... In dozens of interviews, farmers and owners of related businesses said that even the current system of tacitly using illegal labor was failing to sustain them. A work force that arrived in the 1990s is aging out of heavy labor,
Americans do not want the jobs, and tightened security at the border is discouraging new immigrants from arriving, they say, leaving them to struggle amid the paralysis on immigration policy. No other region may be as eager to keep immigration legislation alive.
Assuming that "region" = "employers of illegal aliens."
... Like other employers interviewed, he acknowledged that he almost certainly had illegal immigrants in his work force. Would-be workers provide a Social Security number or a document purporting they are eligible to work; employers accept the documentation even if they doubt its veracity because they want to bring in their crops. ...
Roughly a third of Mr. Herrin’s workers are older than 50, a much higher proportion than even five years ago. He said they had earned the right to stay here. “If we keep them here and not do anything for them once they get old, that’s really extortion,” he said.
By "we," I don't mean "me," Chuck Herrin. I mean you taxpayers.
The region has relied on new arrivals to pick crops since the time of the Dust Bowl. For more than two decades after World War II, growers here depended on braceros, Mexican workers sent temporarily to the United States to work in agriculture.
Then there was this guy named Cesar Chavez who hated immigration. But that's Off-Message, so let's not think about it.
Today, many fieldworkers are indigenous people from southern Mexico who speak Mixtec and know little English or Spanish.
Nothing will alleviate America's Income Inequality and Social Immobility crises faster than bringing in a lot of Mixtec-speaking stoop laborers whose ancestors didn't learn Spanish in the last 493 years.
In recent years, farm owners have grown increasingly fearful of labor shortages.
Last year, the diminished supply of workers led average farm wages in the region to increase by roughly $1 an hour, according to researchers at U.C. Davis who have tracked wages for years.
$1 an hour?!?
A report released this month by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, two business-oriented groups that are lobbying Congress, said foreign-grown produce consumed in the United States had increased by nearly 80 percent since the late 1990s.
In other words, it's possible for Mexicans to grow food in Mexico and sell it to Americans in return for money.
The report argues that the labor shortages make it impossible for American farmers to increase production and compete effectively with foreign importers. While the amount of fresh produce consumed by Americans has increased, domestic production has not kept pace, and the report attributes a $1.4 billion annual loss in farm income to the lack of labor.
In other words, the whole country needs to take on the burden of importing ever more Mixtec speakers and their descendants ad infinitum so growers can make an extra $1.4 billion per year? The current farm bill is supposed to hand out something like $940.0 billion over ten years. That's an absurdly small sum to bet the country over.
So even amid a record drought threatening to wipe out crops here,
You know, I keep reading about how what with the drought and climate change and all that, California can't come up with the water for all the farms and people. Now, we're supposed to have more?
A generation ago, he said, growers often pretended to have no idea that people working for them were not authorized to be in the United States. Now, there is a nearly universal recognition that the industry relies on immigrants who cross the border illegally.
Shamelessness is the most striking characteristic of contemporary discourse on immigration: greed and ethnic animus are praised, while patriotism and prudence are excoriated.