Immigration Newsletter

Thursday, April 3, 2014

California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience - NYTimes.com



California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience - NYTimes.com

NYT Jennifer Medina
 
An onion field near Stratford in California’s Central Valley. Nearly all farmworkers in the region are immigrants, and roughly half of them are working illegally. CreditMatt Black for The New York Times





Industry groups are among the most important forces pressing Congress for an immigration overhaul. Tom Nassif, the president of the Western Growers Association, has shuttled to Washington to press members of Congress, especially Republicans, to get a bill passed this year. Mr. Nassif, an ambassador to Morocco under President Ronald Reagan, has long called for easing entry at the Mexican border to make it easier for growers to find labor.


“We’ve had secure borders with Mexico for the last decade; we don’t have that argument at this point,” Mr. Nassif said. “Now we want people to see the real damage of not doing anything, which is a declining work force, and it means losing production to foreign countries.”


After the 2012 presidential election, as Republicans spoke enthusiastically about the need to court Latinos, Mr. Nassif was optimistic that immigration would become a top priority. But exasperation has replaced his confidence in recent months, and he said his group could withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in congressional races in which it has usually supported Republicans.


“I can tell you if the Republicans don’t put something forward on immigration, there is going to be a very loud hue and cry from us in agriculture,” Mr. Nassif said. “We are a tremendously important part of the party, and they should not want to lose us.”





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