Despite the rush to crack down on illegal aliens, farm workers are desperately needed in many agricultural sectors.
“It may come as a great shock to many people that immigrants are the backbone of many agricultural sectors in the US. For example, apple growers insist that if there is not a dependable supply of immigrant farm workers, they would be out of business very fast. The bottom line here is that immigrants are willing to do the jobs that Americans won’t do,” commented Sally Odell, an immigration lawyer at Rifkin Fox-Isicoff, P.A., in Miami and Orlando, Florida.
The illegal immigrant farm worker versus the unemployed American, who refuses to do that type of labor, is a battle that has waged for years. The unemployed Americans take great umbrage at immigrants coming in and taking work away from them. This is hard to understand when the very same unemployed Americans won’t even consider a job like picking apples, because it doesn’t pay enough or isn’t suitable for them. “So this boils down to—well, which is it? Picking apples or being unemployed while someone else does the work and makes money?” said Odell.
The reliability of the immigrant farm worker supply has become a real issue these days thanks to the ever changing rules in the H2a Immigrant Farm Worker program – not to mention the radical move to crackdown on illegal immigrants in various states. “It very simply comes down to this proposition: if there are not immigrant farm workers to pick apples or do other agricultural jobs, we may lose those industries,” Odell added.
The solution? “Ideally, the solution would be to pass an agricultural jobs bill that sets up a guest worker program and gives undocumented aliens already here working, a path to citizenship. Problem is this bill has been caught between a rock and a hard place – the flap over comprehensive immigration reform and the increased enforcement at the borders. Which makes that thought a bit of an oxymoron,” Odell pointed out. Comprehensive immigration reform and what it’s trying to accomplish just does not go hand-in-hand with border enforcement.
“Will the H2a Immigrant Farm Worker program survive the election and comprehensive immigration reform legislation, should it pass eventually? Good question and only time will tell,” observed Odell, an immigration lawyer at Rifkin Fox-Isicoff, P.A., in Miami and Orlando, Florida.
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