Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lack of immigration reform threatens California farmers

What is most notable about this article is the fact that farmers have access to foreign labor through the H-2A program.  But the program is so poorly run that by the time they get permission to bring in the foreign workers, the harvest season is over.

If O'Bama really cared abou stopping illegal immigration he would fix this problem.  I'm sure (wink wink) he's all over that...

One federal program designed to allow temporary entry of foreign agriculture workers — called H-2A — fails in California because "it's fraught with bureaucratic nightmares," Pegg says. "The federal government doesn't act timely enough for picking and harvesting."

Here's an article that discusses some more of the problems associated with the bureacratic mess of the H-2A visa program.  What I don't understand is why it takes an act of Congress to get this fixed.  O'Bama has already shown he can act on issues merely by edict with our without Congress.  Why should this be any different?

Farmers apply for certification from the Labor Department to ensure that U.S. workers are not available; the majority of these requests are granted. (Florida ranks fifth for the number of granted certifications.)

Employers then submit a petition to the Department of Homeland Security to bring in foreign workers. If that application is approved, foreign workers can go to a U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for the visa from the State Department.

Employers must meet a list of requirements, including providing workers with housing, transportation, and other benefits, such as workers’ compensation insurance. No health insurance coverage is required.


"There is a legal program," said Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association. "It is considered by agriculture to be broken and needing to be fixed. Rubio is definitely wrong when he says there is no program now, but he is right when he says something needs to be done."

Ervin Lineberger, who owns a North Carolina blackberry and grape farm, told PolitiFact that he looked into using the H-2A program a couple of times and concluded that it wouldn’t work for him. One problem was that he would have to supply housing, and he only does that now for four workers, though he hires 50 -- mostly Mexicans -- during the season.

Last year he turned to unemployed U.S. citizens, and of the 15 he hired, "only one was with me when we finished the season." Some were too out of shape for the farm work or didn’t want to work on weekends, he said.

"There is a need for a process where, especially the Mexican workers, can come here legally and go home legally," he said.

Personally, if I lived in CA and were a young strapping lad again, I'd be working in the fields.

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