Lawmaker Offers Plan to Lure Migrant Farm Workers

Julia Preston, New York Times, September 8, 2011

A leading Republican lawmaker has proposed creating a program to bring 500,000 foreign migrant farm workers to the United States each year, responding to an outcry this summer from American farmers who said shortages of legally authorized labor were imperiling their crops.

The lawmaker, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced his farm guest worker bill late on Wednesday and held a hearing on it in the House on Thursday. He is proposing a thorough overhaul of the existing guest worker program for agriculture, known as H-2A, which is shunned by most growers as too bureaucratic and costly for their fast-changing labor needs in fields and orchards.

Instead, farmers have turned to some 1.1 million illegal immigrants now estimated to be working in agriculture.

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  • June

    I don’t understand. I was just on the phone asking for various reps to stand behind Smith’s bill for e-verify, which is to help rid he workforce of illegals. How does this help?

  • Anonymous

    “Rep. Lamar Smith wants 500,000 foreign migrant farm workers annually.”

    Who will move to the nearest city to become construction, restaurant, janitorial and diversity goverment workers a week after arrival.

    How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm when they can drive a city bus or deliver mail?

  • Question Diversity

    1 June:

    Smith’s E-Verify bill has a poison pill — It would prohibit states from enforcing employer mandates to use E-Verify. In practical terms, it means that E-Verify would not be used, because the Feds never enforce immigration law for all practical purposes. The Chamber Pot of Commerce demanded and got that preemption provision.

  • ATBOTL

    What’s wrong with Texas?

  • Anonymous

    This is why I despise Chamber of Commerce type Republicans. People like Dick Armey, who has taken control of partof the tea party. I’m not a big fan of them anyway because immigration doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda. Except for the tried and true nonsense about being against illegal immigration but love legal immigration.

  • Irish

    This is very, very disappointing. Lamar Smith has been a staunch and stalwart immigration reformer in the true sense, not only of illegal but also of legal immigration. He was the chairman of the relevant subcommittee in Congress for a long time and did great work.

    Now he is pushing “guest worker”. But it’s obvious to sensible people that “guest workers” will overstay their visas and become illegal aliens, and all they have to do is impregnate a female who gives birth on US soil to have an anchor baby. Thus regardless of the most solemn and serious vows of strict enforcement, ALL guest worker programs are just another venue for mass immigration of permanent settlers on our soil.

    The Germans have had generations long nightmarish headaches with Turkish and Kurdish “guest workers”. And the French have had the same with black and Arab ones.

    Wake up!

  • Jim

    Europe doesn’t require migrant farm labor so why does the US?

  • Anonymous

    The GOP is no friend of the White man

  • Anonymoose

    Farmers need 1.1 nillion migrant workers? Can’t they mechanize more? Or hire people who are already here? Or change what they grow? No one is guaranteed a factor of production in the quantity they choose at the price they choose.

    This story makes me think of the McDonalds owner I heard on a call-in show years ago. She said that she had to hire illegal immigrants because she could not find workers who would work for the wages she was paying. Where did she get the idea that she was entitled to a supply of labor at the price she wanted it at? If I could start a hamburger joint and get my rent at the price I chose, my food at the price I chose and my labor at the price I chose, I could do pretty well.

    Someone opught to tell these people, there’s a reason why they call economics the dismal science.

    Back to Rep. Lamar Smith. His district, interestingly, is composed of a combination of wealthy sections of San Antonio and Austin and a large rural area to the west known as the Texas Hill Country. Sounds like a lethal combination. I’m sure there are a lot of nice folks in the Hill Country, but I suspect the farmers and ranchers are the dominant political force there.

  • Wild Bill

    4 — ATBOTL wrote at 9:04 PM on September 14:

    What’s wrong with Texas?

    Well for starters only half the population votes. Half of that votes democrat the other republican.

    Of those that vote, many have season tickets to the biggest ball games, many others have an open bar tab and a pleasure boat.

    Texas voters like Rick Perry because he swaggers around and sounds compassionate when he admits his mistake in using the full force of the state to force the 12 year old girls in public schools to take the HPV vaccine which Merck paid his campaign, by his own admission, $5000. Several girls died. OH well, ho hum… he was trying to do the right thing. You can not just sit back and let them die can you?

    Texans like football and they like America’s Most Wanted TV show. Texans like to feelgood about them selves and they do not like serious introspection. They go to church and hope to be seen on TV. Many wait for the Rapture.

    The picture of Rick Perry in the upper right of AmRen is probably a big hit with most of the Texans who see it. They do not know and do not care that Perry is a big fan of global warming cures that require the population to pay 25% of their money to Al Gore and level playing field of GATT (whats thaat?) with even more legislation favoring China.

    And in Texas 1/6 of the population (white males) is on some type of antidepressant.

    So when someone asks, “Whats wrong with Texas?” very few Texans have any notion what they are talking about.

  • Vick

    You know how people say that “these are jobs Americans won’t do?” – well, these are jobs that illegals don’t want to do either – especially if they can get food service jobs, construction jobs, etc.

    If there is some way to institute a guest worker program that strictly limits the jobs illegals can do to agriculture, then I might be persuaded. Any such program must include strict measures that effectively stop the rest of illegal immigration.

    Failing that, I won’t be shedding any tears for agribusiness.

    Get a new business model, traitors.

  • thorismund

    This is really insane. The central valley and Imperial County(CA) are farmed based and have high unemployment rates. Imperial County has a 30.8% unemployment rate and lost 1,600 farm jobs in July-why do we need to import farm workers?

  • Anonymous

    So the ‘farmers’ bring in the mexicans to pick fruits and vegetables, because Americans don’t want to work all day like slaves for $20? (Why don’t they pay $10 an hour and hire locals? Americans would pay a little more for their carrots.)

    The ‘farmers’ bring in the illegals so they can dodge payroll taxes and a whole host of other fees. (Sounds like a scheme to defraud the American people!)

    The mexican illegals then drop a ton of babies, who all go on the public dole for their whole lives. (Mexicans are sprouting up in HUGE numbers ALL OVER THE PLACE and bringing nothing but trouble wherever they go!)

    The children of these illegals DO NOT WANT to pick fruits and vegetables all day for $20, so they scatter all over the country and most end up in gangs or on welfare. (We all have eyes and have seen this ruining our once nice country.)

    So the ‘farmers’ then ask for millions more latinos to work like slaves. (Sounds like a treasonous plot, doesn’t it?)

    Cycle repeats until the illegals and their 2nd, 3rd, now 4th generation welfare descendants outnumber us and take over.

    What will the ‘farmers’ do then, when the cartels kill them and take their land to grow drugs?

  • Anonymoose

    13 — Anonymous wrote at 5:55 PM on September 15:

    So the ‘farmers’ bring in the Mexicans to pick fruits and vegetables, because Americans don’t want to work all day like slaves for $20? (Why don’t they pay $10 an hour and hire locals? Americans would pay a little more for their carrots.)

    ________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________

    Interesting commentary by #13. Just to make a point, it may not be true that Mexicans “bring nothing but trouble”. But that’s not the issue. The point is, though they arrive preassimilated into Western civilization, they are not exactly like or of the existing majority population. Inevitably they will alter the ethnic character of the population and will affect the possibilities of life for the existing majority, and along with that complicate efforts to help the historic African-American population. In fact already have done all these things.

    A little known fact, based on what I saw living for many years in Central California, and on seeing the Salinas Valley close up as well, is that the migrant farm workers and the proliferating illegal immigrants very often are not the same people. Many farm workers come to “El Norte” to work from Spring to Fall, and then return Mexico, where they have homes and families, and seasonal jobs there. They earn more than $20 a day, but do not spend their earnings on clothes and accommodations. Most of them, appearance to the contrary, are normal people, and not prone to violence and misbehavior. There are alarming exceptions. And these are too frequent to be overlooked. But maybe less than would occur with migratory crews of native born workers, black or white.

    In other cases, farm workers are settled local residents who do this type of work to supplement their income. You can see their cars and trucks — the types of vehicles normal middle class and lower middle class people drive — parked at the edges of the fields all over the Salinas Valley.

    The illegals who come here intending to remain permanently largely do work, but not in farm labor as often as you think.

    What I have heard, net immigration from Mexico has reached the net zero level, the same number coming in as leaving. Given the unlikelihood of returning any large number of illegals to Mexico and other countries, maybe it would be more productive to pursue other issues affecting American society. Curtailing illegal immigration is always an issue. But so are other things. Encouraging people to voluntarily return to their original country is one thing. Limiting immigration, period is another issue. Encouraging the assimilation and unqualified adoption of the American creed and culture among existing immigrants is an issue too.

    Limiting the numbers allowed in legally should be the highest priority, along with limiting the abuses of the H1-B and like visa programs for educated workers. Seriously modifying the 1960s-era immigration reform act is unlikely, but passing legislation reducing the annual numbers below a million might be possible in the coming years.

  • jack in Chicago

    Please contact Rep. Smith’s office and politely voice your strong opposition to this treason. Rep. Smith is usually pretty good on immigration. Obviously the neo slavery, agribusiness lobby is pushing him to do this.

    Austin District Office

    3532 Bee Cave Road, Suite 100

    Austin, TX 78746

    ph: 512-306-0439

    Washington, DC Office

    2409 Rayburn House Office Building

    Washington, DC 20515

    ph: 202-225-4236

  • John Engelman

    8 — Anonymous wrote at 6:30 AM on September 15:

    The GOP is no friend of the White man.

    ——-

    The GOP advances the economic interests of the rich.

    On issues where the interests of the white working class conflict with those of blacks and Hispanics – such as forced school busing and affirmative action – the Democratic Party sides with blacks and Hispanics.

    White blue collar workers, who are the salt of the earth, have no political party that consistently advances their economic and social interests.

  • Anonymous

    This guy should become an ex-Lawmaker. When is this sell-out up for Re-Election?