Saturday, May 16, 2009

Immigrants Down on the Farm

Last year many fruit farms in the west and nurseries in the midwest experienced a shortage of workers. They had depended on legal H2-B and undocumented workers. There were fewnof each. Provisions in the failed comprehensive reform bill had addressed farm needs. Growers and immigrant/labor activists had compromised on immigration and labor issues in what came to be called AgJobs. In exchange for more legal foreign workers growers would support new protections of all farm workers and a path to legal status for the foreign workers. When the comprehensive packaged failed, there was hope that some features would pass as separate bills. Only more sanction and more wall seemed to survive. Both the Dream Act and AgJobs, which has wide support, just couldn't make it out of committee. A bipartisan group of representatives and senators have re-introduced the AgJobs Bill. Whether pieces of immigration reform like the Dream Act or AgJobs should go ahead separately is much debated among comprehensive reform advocates. Nonetheless the AgJobs Bill must certainly be part of reform. (See New York Times editorial.)

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