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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Farmworkers may seek greener pastures

    IMMIGRATION: Farmworkers may seek greener pastures

    President Obama’s initiative to provide work permits to potentially millions of undocumented immigrants could lead some to leave fields.

    Published: Jan. 7, 2015 4:29 p.m.


    • President Obama announced an executive action Nov. 20 that will grant protection from deportation for many parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents and expand a 2012 executive action that provides deportation relief for many immigrants who came to the United States as children.
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expects to begin receiving applications for the parents of citizens and legal residents in mid- or late May.
    • USCIS expects to begin receiving applications from those covered under the expansion of the 2012 program in mid- or late February.

    Every summer, Ben Drake scrambles to find enough workers to pick wine grapes in his fields outside Temecula.

    He worries that President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which will allow potentially millions of undocumented immigrants access to three-year work permits, could make it even more difficult.

    “I can provide good wages for three months during the harvest,” Drake said of migrant workers. “But I don’t have work for them year-round.”

    Like other growers, Drake believes some of his migrant employees may abandon farm work for more stable employment.

    About four million people are expected to be eligible for the executive action, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. The main beneficiaries are parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents who can prove they have lived in the United States for at least five years.

    The executive action will protect recipients from deportation and allow them to work legally in the United States.

    “Legal status tends to help workers get better jobs,” said Todd Sorensen, an expert on the economic effects of immigration and until recently an assistant professor of economics at UC Riverside.

    “Agricultural jobs are not the better jobs, so I would expect people who are undocumented would move out of agricultural.”

    Other jobs that typically pay low wages -- such as dishwashing and other food-service work -- also may lose some immigrant workers, said Sorensen, who is now at the University of Nevada.

    Without work permits, many undocumented immigrants avoid switching jobs, because of the risks of working illegally, he said.

    About half of U.S. agricultural workers are not authorized to work in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Labor estimates.

    Drake said he checks the identification documents that his workers present him and hires them if the documents appear to be legitimate.

    But he acknowledged that the government has in the past notified him of workers who had social security numbers that did not match up with their names, indicating they were in the country illegally. He said he dismissed those workers.

    Drake, 65, grows grapes and avocados on 1,150 acres near Temecula. Every July, he gets nervous about finding the 12 to 14 temporary workers he needs for the grape harvest, in addition to about a dozen employees who work year-round in the vineyards.

    He typically pays between $9.75 to $10.50 an hour for pruning and other off-season work. But during harvests, he said he pays an average of $14 to $16 an hour -- well above the $10.80 average farmworker wage that the Department of Labor found in 2012.

    But that can’t compete with a year-round job, including positions in construction, which often pay more, he said.

    “I had two guys who just left me and then went to work in construction,” Drake said.

    During Riverside County’s torrid growth in the early and mid-2000s, when seas of new homes seemingly went up overnight, many farmworkers left the fields for construction sites, said Steve Pastor, executive director of the Riverside County Farm Bureau.

    “During the boom years of construction, it was awfully hard to find workers,” he said.

    That was without a presidential executive action that allows many undocumented immigrants to legally work in the United States.

    As the Inland region’s economy recovers and developers again build new homes, demand for construction workers is rising. Inland employers in a range of other industries also are hiring again, as reflected by an unemployment rate that has fallen from a peak of 15 percent in July 2010 to 8 percent in November 2014. The new permits that allow undocumented immigrants to work legally may make non-agricultural jobs even more tempting for farmworkers than in the past, Pastor said.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member vistalad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    It was inevitable. Amnesty will let field workers move up. Their moving up will create vacancies for new field workers. Farmers will claim that it's too expensive for them to get temporary work visas for the replacements, and a new cycle of visa overstayers will begin. The only question is when they'll have to be given citizenship.

    Ironically in his 2006 autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, 'Bama wrote that an influx of illegals will harm “the wages of blue-collar Americans” and “put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

    Unfortunately, 'Bama is mow much more concerned about locking up the votes of all those Undocumented Democrats than he ever will be about blue collar Americans - or any Americans for that matter.
    Americans first in this magnificent country

    American jobs for American workers

    Fair trade, not free trade

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