There is a debate in the U.S. about how to get unemployed Americans to work in agriculture. It is a debate made all the more controversial by the fact that many unemployed Americans have expressed that they do not want to work in jobs they consider demeaning.
Miami, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 25, 2010 – Republicans on a committee dealing with this issue have argued that illegal immigrants take jobs away from the unemployed.
“It’s safe to say if unemployed Americans wanted those agricultural jobs, they’d already be working in them,” said Larry S. Rifkin of Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, P.A., an immigration law firm in Orlando and Miami, Florida. “The fact that they are not sends an interesting message to the politicians who have yet to acknowledge that migrant workers are what keep the country’s produce moving.”
The burning issue for many Republicans in relation to immigrants working agricultural jobs is that their presence means Americans do not have that work. However, some on the other side have questioned where the Americans are who will work this kind of job.
One side of the immigration debate believes that allowing low skilled guest workers to take jobs from poor legal residents is counterproductive. The other side believes that some agricultural jobs are not a good fit for unemployed people. These days it would seem that the issue is having work and paying the bills, not whether or not the job isn’t a good fit.
Evidently, most of the agricultural jobs are seasonal, which means workers would have to move where the work was located. Wages are also considered to be very low for the number of hours required. At issue too is that migrant farm laborers have fewer rights than other laborers.
These three factors are essentially a turn off for American workers. That being said, a job is a job and if someone does not have one, but there is work to be had, it’s hardly acceptable to not take work because it’s not attractive. Today’s economy dictates that people need to do what they can to get food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
The ultimate hitch with this Rubik’s cube of a problem is that without enough migrant workers to pull the product out of the field, agricultural production could stop, growers lose crops and farms go out of business. Since the nation relies on farms for food, this would be a crisis of major proportions. Right now, the legal method to let migrant workers into America is as fast as molasses in January and Visa reform is critical.
In the fields now are workers here under a shaky H-2A guest worker program, which is rickety and highly unreliable. This leaves employers with the choice of taking that slow route when they need workers immediately, or taking documents that “look” good from migrant workers who may be here illegally, or hiring Americans, if any chose to apply.
The number of workers needed to keep the wheels of agriculture turning in the US is two million and only 5,000 visas are earmarked each year for migrant workers. Where are the remainder of workers to come from? This is the conundrum yet to be solved.
Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, P.A.
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