Fast focus: What should we do about the farm labor shortage? Mechanize crops

February 17, 2013 

As I wrote in previous letters to the TCH, the vast majority of "illegal immigrants" don't intend to stay. An undocumented immigrant's typical plan is to work through the harvest season, make some money, go back home and build a house. Come back next year, work, go back, and start a small business. Repeat the process until your family's improved standard of living no longer requires you to migrate to the U.S. for work. That was my parent's intention in 1978 but it became so expensive and dangerous to be going back and forth undocumented that they decided to bring the whole family (all 9 of us) and stay. Millions of other parents did the same and now we have 11 million people here undocumented and we need to figure out what to do with them. The plan needs to include steps to stop illegal immigration and a well planned, well executed, and free flowing legal labor supply for U.S. employers will stop illegal immigration more effectively than any wall, drone, or a militarized border. Effective visa programs such as the H2A and H1B may very well be the answer to more problems than one.

Regardless of what the program looks like, it needs to include protections to avoid abuses such as the ones suffered by laborers during the 50s, 60s, and 70s in which they were deported to avoid paying them, forbidden to leave labor camps, or denied entry into towns by the police.

Now, in response to the Feb 11 letter, "Crazy predicament," Ms Vance, do you really expect people to believe that Robert Leam cannot get a job, go to college, or join the military because he was brought here legally? How do you think millions of U.S. born citizens and legal immigrants manage to do all three? You say if he had been brought to the country illegally, he would be able to find a job if he wanted to one which implies he's not really looking for one. That's part of the problem. That's why employers look to foreign labor, citizens and legal immigrants are not willing to do certain jobs. We would rather collect unemployment or government assistance than actually work. Unemployment should have been 0% in our region and no fruit should have been left on trees during the last few harvest seasons. Employers need to get the job done and they know they cannot count on citizens and legal immigrants alone to do it and do it right.

As for the 11 million who are already here, let's sort out the decent, hard-working, and otherwise law-abiding members of our community and offer them a path to citizenship. Let's deport the rest.

-- Ruben Peralta, Pasco

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