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Thread: Computer glitch strands hundreds of fruit pickers at U.S.: Mexico border

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Computer glitch strands hundreds of fruit pickers at U.S.: Mexico border

    Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:01am EDT

    Computer glitch strands hundreds of fruit pickers at U.S.: Mexico border

    SAN DIEGO | BY MARTY GRAHAM


    Hundreds of Mexican farm workers have been stranded for two weeks along the U.S. border after a government computer failure left them unable to obtain visas sought for them by Washington state cherry growers, officials said on Monday.

    In the meantime, agricultural officials said, cherry crops have been spoiling in the trees because the orchards lack enough workers to pick them.


    Since a State Department database crashed on June 9, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has managed to process fewer than half the applications it has received seeking H-2A visas for temporary farm employment.


    The visas have been granted to about 1,250 workers who had previously obtained them, but 1,500 first-time applicants cannot yet get the documents because of the computer failure, according to State Department spokeswoman Julia Straker.


    Among those waiting are more than 550 would-be workers sponsored by the Washington Farm Labor Association, a nonprofit group that represents growers.


    Many have been stuck in Tijuana, across the Mexican border from San Diego, waiting for their visas to come through so they can proceed to jobs waiting for them in the cherry orchards, said Roxana Macias, program manager for the labor group.


    Time was running out for the cherry crop, she said.


    “Cherries are timely; if you don’t get them in the 10- to 14-day window when they’re ready to harvest, they become mush,” Macias said.


    Washington is the single largest producer of sweet cherries in the United States, generating $385 million in revenue in 2013, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.


    Many of the workers who come to harvest cherries stay to harvest blueberries, the next crop to ripen, labor association director Dan Fazio said.


    “Our farmers are all in for the guest worker program, but the government isn’t,” Fazio said. “We have a lot of cherries that are ruined and it looks like a lot of blueberries are going to be lost.”


    The association paid $1,500 per worker for the visas, and has spent more than $100,000 to provide housing and food for the workers in Mexico, legal services and other efforts to get the workers in Tijuana to the crops in Washington, Fazio said.


    “I don’t know if this damages the entire Washington sweet cherry crop,” Fazio said. “But I know that I have growers whose entire crop is wiped out.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/...0P30EZ20150623
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 06-23-2015 at 03:03 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Are'nt computers grand!?

    Put his story alongside the China hacking, and Obamacare introduction, would there be anything left of government pride? Why would there be?

  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Situation eases for stranded farmworkers at U.S.-Mexico border

    June 24th, 2015

    An industry source has confirmed the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border with guest farmworkers who had been stranded due to a computer glitch has now improved, with many now having crossed into the U.S.



    After a State Department database crashed on June 9, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) managed to process fewer than half the applications it had received seeking H-2A visas for temporary farm employment, leaving some 1,500 workers stranded in the Mexican border town of Tijuana over the last couple of weeks.


    The problems came just at a time when many growers in Washington were beginning to harvest their cherry crops.


    Dan Fazio, director of the Washington Farm Labor Association (WAFLA), which sponsors hundreds of those stranded workers, toldwww.freshfruitportal.com the vast majority had since made it legally over the border.


    “I don’t think that there are any farmworkers stranded right now,” he said, adding this year the association had been ‘lucky’ as it had pushed the timings forward and brought most of the workers over before June 1.


    “This system has kind of been giving us problems for a couple of months now and it crashed on June 9. What we did is we found a work-around in the law which would enable an emergency visa waiver in cases where they would not print the visa.


    “The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are mixed up about it, so we haven’t gotten an official word from them, although they have, I understand, allowed the emergency visa waivers for some of the farmworkers that were stranded.”


    He added the State Department had been working to clear the backlog but was unsure as to why the system wasn’t working.


    According to Fazio, Washington State is the second-largest user of season workers in the country, behind California.


    “No one on the West Coast had really tried to use the guest worker program until we started in 2007. We went from basically zero to over 10,000 workers from 2007 to now,” he said.


    “We’ll have between 10,000 and 15,000 guest workers, so that makes up about 20% of the seasonal workers that we need in the state for that critical period from June 1 to November 1.”


    The WAFLA head said the stranded workers’ hotel and food costs had been paid for by the association, which is paid by Washington growers to provide legal workers with all the relevant documents to the farms.


    The growers also pay for the farmworkers’ housing during their time in the U.S. along with all the associated travel costs, Fazio said.


    “They’ve invested over US$50 million in the housing for the workers, and every year it costs them about US$15 million to get them here and back, not even counting the cost of the housing or the cost of buses to get them from the housing to the fields,” Fazio said.


    “Growers on the West Coast are all in for the legal worker program, and the workers love it because it’s just a beautiful system for them, but we have to ask the government to show us that it is committed.”


    He added the biggest cost this year had come in terms of lost fruit and productivity for some Washington growers whose guest workers were late arriving, but he didn’t believe the incident had caused widespread problems.


    Photo: www.shutterstock.com

    www.freshfruitportal.com

    http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2015...country=others
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  4. #4
    MW
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    Hmm, computer glitch?

    http://www.alipac.us/f12/truck-carry...border-320661/

    Makes you wonder if there is a connection. Is our government lying to us again?
    kevinssdad likes this.

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