FreeRepublic.com owner speaks on immigration and the guest worker program
To: Mo1; JeffAtlanta; WatchingInAmazement; AuntB
"Times have changed ... In my day, teenagers or college students would work many of these jobs to earn money"
Speaking of agriculture, I think there's a lot more to it than that. Today's ^corporate^ farming is much larger in scale and more competitive than the family farms were when we were young and worked the fields with our parents. Large labor intensive farming companies cannot use young unreliable teenagers or college students as laborers.
For example, the tree fruit growers in Central California depend on large crews of mostly immigrant workers. The crews work ten hours per day, six days per week and they are highly skilled and efficient in their work. The crews and contractors may or may not be direct employees of the growers using their services. Labor contractors in many cases work for many growers on many farms. The crews move from field to field, farm to farm as the work is needed. They load up and are transported by the foremen or contractors as needed. They start before day break and end sometimes after sundown. It's the most efficient way to supply a large reliable labor force and works out well for all involved. Unless they want to live in a labor camp for the season, I don't think this would work out well for young people.
I am opposed to illegal immigration and when I was working in the ag industry thought it was pretty much under control. Among other things, we supplied growers and packing houses with payroll software. I've written software for and helped get out many farm and or labor contractor payrolls. In those days, we programmed in checks to catch illegals. Number one, they had to have a valid non-duplicate social security number. They also had to have valid INS documentation. No valid social security card or INS documentation, no work, no paycheck. Any illegals were rejected and couldn't even get assigned to a work crew. And I don't think we had many illegals. Had some try to get in with forged documents, but that didn't work very well for them.
Can't speak for other states or industries, but if there was suddenly no immigrant farm labor available to our growers, I believe the entire farming system and farming economy of California would collapse. And that would probably collapse the entire California economy... and that in turn might collapse the entire US economy. Whether it would or not, if there are any winners, they would probably be in Chile and or other farm producing countries. America would be the big loser.
This is why I believe a guest worker program (at least for farming) would be feasible if not ideal. The employers requesting temporary immigrant workers would be similar to the labor contractors I used to work with. A system could be developed where the labor contractors (or large growers) could work with the immigration service to recruit reliable laborers as needed. The background check and paperwork would all be done at the immigration service and each certified temporary worker would join a contractor or grower's workforce. His info would be recorded in both the immigration database and the employer's database. The employers would have confidence that his entire workforce is legal and our immigration service would have a reliable system of tracking the temporary workers.
The employer's payroll service would automatically track all monies earned and report all taxes, deductions, social security, union fees or whatever back to the immigration service. The time in country and current location of the individual immigrants would also be tracked. If someone goes "AWOL" beyond a specified time limit, it would be known immediately and the now illegal immigrant could be located and deported or dealt with accordingly. The contractors or employers would be responsible for the training, housing, transportation and well being of his people. If the work drys up for any extended period of time and there are no other employers or contractors needing the labor, the immigrant would have to return home.
Also, I believe if such a system were possible, then there would definitely be an advantage for the immigrant to be here legally. He'd be assured of a steady job, housing, transportation, etc, and wouldn't have to fear being taken advantage of by coyotes and other unscrupulous operators. Also, illegals would be easier to spot, catch and deport. I think the market for illegals would soon dry up.
I know, I know. If only Americans were allowed to take these jobs then none of this would be necessary. If suddenly today there were no immigrants, then the price of farm labor would likely double or triple and even our highly educated people (comparatively speaking) would troop out to the fields to prune trees and vines and pick fruit and grapes in the hot sun for 10 hours per day 6 days per week. Well, wait a minute, just recruit more workers then they wouldn't have to work such long hours. And provide shade so it's not so hot. But, whatever, someone had better be there to harvest the fruit when it's ready or else the grower goes under, etc, etc, etc.