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Conservative Support for Farm Workers

September 21, 2011
Plain English Version


A proposed new law makes employers run the names and social security numbers of new employees through a federal government database. The program, called E-Verify, is now voluntary.

Large fruit and vegetable growers do not want the proposal to become law. Half to three-quarters of their workers are undocumented. They say many undocumented workers will not apply for jobs because they fear being caught. The result will be a shortage of workers to pick America’s crops.

When the state of Georgia passed an E-Verify law last summer, 11,000 agricultural jobs went unfilled.

A new proposal will allow 500,000 workers to get temporary agricultural visas.

Critics say half a million workers is not enough to satisfy the demand of farmers. Another proposal puts no cap on the number. Both ideas allow only a 10-month visa renewable each year.

A better idea is the “AgJobs” proposal that would allow1.5 million undocumented workers who pass a background check to remain here. They could eventually earn legal status. This would also streamline the process for admitting future farm workers.

Many conservatives say immigrant farm labor is good for American economic growth.

The Wall Street Journal


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