Hiring and paying illegal immigrants is illegal. But then, so is offering them sanctuary in your city, county, or state: shared borders, Federal law, and all that. So, I’m not sure how the farm industry is getting away with paying illegal workers unless they are all Democrat owned. Or, is this some of that unscrupulous business practice of which we are so often warned?
Whatever the case, recent (if only fleeting) changes in our approach to illegal aliens have fewer of them taking up illicit jobs in the farm industry. But the fruit won’t pick itself. Someone or something has to do that.
With the election of Trump, employers said they knew that finding undocumented workers would probably become even more difficult. One Washington state farmer said he watched as his entire pool of undocumented workers crossed the border into Canada after Trump’s inauguration, fearing deportation. Another farmer, failing to find domestic workers in 2017, formed a partnership with a local prison, hiring detainees to work the fields as part of a voluntary work program.
Breitbart reports that the initial response was an increase in H-2A Visas.
Farm companies are importing more temporary visa workers via the H-2A program. In 2016, farm companies hired 165,000 temporary workers via the H2A program. In 2018, the number rose to 242,000 H-2A workers, who are expected to return home after 10 months of work.
The quick math tells you that there was a minimum of 77,000 illegal farm workers in the United States. That’s undoubtedly a low-ball number. How low-ball we can never know because, well, illegal. But the reduction in labor force participation for illegal employees has forced growers to consider additional options — machinery and (gasp) Americans.
“The labor force keeps shrinking,” said Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer. “If we don’t solve this with automation, fresh fruits and veggies won’t be affordable or even available to the average person.”
One Thing Leads to Another
Perhaps the government (and people in love with illegal immigrants) could stop incentivizing insanely high tuitions using government-backed loans for meaningless degrees in areas of study no economy needs?
A decorated expert in left-handed albino lesbian studies (for example) might be able to tell us how unjust the growers are for failing to hire the demographic equivalent of their victim group. But they don’t know a whit about making a machine to pick strawberries without bruising the fruit. Not that they’d bother. Liberal NGO’s probably pay a good deal better for desk jobs to bitch about the state of the world than jobs that do anything useful about it.
Complaining about how to make the government bigger so you can expand your own payroll to send more whiners after virtue-signaling politicians are the antithesis of a productive economy. And it is productive economies that lift people without grievance degrees into the middle class.
And isn’t that the point?
Illegals, we are told by these whiners, are just looking for a better way of life? So, why are you allowing growers to rob them of a decent wage by sneaking them their pay under the farm table? Making the Growers and workers follow the rules does at least two things. It disincentivizes other illegal traffic which uses similar loopholes to traffic drugs and sex into the US. And it forces everyone in the industry from farm to table to look for efficiencies to keep pricing competitive instead of milking cheap illegal labor.
Consumer reward lower prices. Growers should not see that as an excuse to continue the abuse of cheap illegal labor. And the incentive to work in the US should not be an introduction into law-breaking and hiding from authorities as part of the process.
Be legal or nothing.
Image: Business Insider