agriculture

DHS Delays Critical H-1B Rule, Senators Respond

DHS announced in February that it will be delaying and reconsidering a critical regulation change governing how USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of cap-subject petitions. The administration’s failure to implement these critical reforms underscores its unwillingness to prioritize the interests of both U.S. and foreign workers over those of profit collectors and outsourcing companies. . .

Mexican Ambassador: Let's Restart Mass Migration into U.S.

The United States should reopen itself to migration, amnesties, refugee inflows, asylum seekers, and more temporary contract workers, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday.

The U.S. immigration system “has to be based on facts and realities,” Ambassador Martha Bárcena Coqui told a forum arranged by the National Immigration Forum (NIF). She continued: ‘The facts and realities is the need to protect the most vulnerable, the need to keep open the generosity towards refugees, the need to recognize the complementarity of labor markets and demographic profiles, the need for temporary workers in the United States.”. .

Notes on the Spring Meat Shortage

The Great Toilet Paper Scare of 2020 has come to end, but don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. The Spring Meat Stampede is here. . .

The Other Dangerous Dependence Exposed by Coronavirus Crisis: Low Wage, Exploitable Foreign Farm Labor, Charges FAIR

A devastating March 28 Associated Press report reveals how little value powerful agricultural interests place on the lives and safety of either their guest workers or their illegal labor force. Moreover, the stunning silence of the massively funded network of so-called “immigrants’ rights” groups in the face of these revelations shows how little they actually care about the people they claim to advocate for. . .

Liberty Headlines: Supreme Court OKs Denial of Green Cards for Those Likely to Need Gov’t Aid

(Liberty Headlines) The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to put in place a policy connecting the use of public benefits with whether immigrants could become permanent residents

Apparently Washington is Never Too Divided to Capitulate to the Demands of Big Ag

At a time when lawmakers from our two political parties can barely stomach being under the same rotunda with each other, House members have managed to come together to approve a regressive labor and illegal alien amnesty bill, ironically labeled the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038). Owing to the chaos swirling around the nation’s capital, this massive giveaway to the powerful agricultural industry lobby is largely escaping notice from the American people.

Under H.R. 5038, an estimated 1.5 million illegal aliens would be eligible for amnesty, but not before having to serve a decade or more in indentured servitude to their employers before achieving full legal status. “Granting amnesty to illegal aliens is always a bad idea, and merely attracts more illegal immigration,” stated Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

“The only thing worse than another large-scale amnesty is one that then forces people to continue to toil for poor wages and under poor working conditions for the same unscrupulous employers who hired them illegally in the first place,” said Stein.

Far from modernizing our agricultural workforce, the legislation ensures that the American agricultural industry will remain mired in the 17th century. “The foundation of a modern agricultural industry must be increased reliance on technology and mechanization to ensure that we can feed our population and export our surplus. Instead of offering incentives or subsidies for farmers to invest in real modernization, this bill incentivizes a continued reliance on inefficient, low-wage immigrant labor,” Stein charged.

H.R. 5038 is, at best, a short-term fix for an industry that relies on easily exploitable labor. The bill, which would designate current illegal farmworkers as Certified Agricultural Workers (CAW), is almost an exact replicate of the failed 1986 Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) amnesty. Under that fraud-ridden amnesty program, some 1.1 million illegal aliens received legal status prompting them to leave that industry in pursuit of better wages and working conditions in other sectors of the economy, and leading Big Agriculture to hire the next wave of illegal aliens.

“Mark Twain quipped that ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.’ Congress, in attempting to create a CAW amnesty after the massive failure of the SAW amnesty, seems intent on proving that history can repeat itself and rhyme at the same time,” Stein observed.

“While Congress continues to do nothing to secure our borders, passing a bill that rewards both illegal aliens and their employers, and calling it ‘modernization,’ is a slap in the face to the plurality of Americans who consider immigration to be the nation’s most pressing domestic issue,” concluded Stein.

Contact: Matthew Tragesser, 202-328-7004 or mtragesser@fairus.org

H.R. 5038 won in the House but the battle is not over

Alert date: 
December 13, 2019
Alert body: 

The vote in the House of Representatives on Dec. 12 on H.B. 5038, Farm Workforce Modernization Act, was:  Ayes, 260; Nays, 160.   As you might expect all of Oregon’s House members voted in favor of rewarding law breakers.  Let’s hope President Trump will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

“Farm Workforce Modernization Act” would do George Orwell proud.  To return to stoop labor workers instead of mechanization is the anthesis of “modernization.”   To reward law breakers at the expense of farmers who obey laws is a slap in the face to the farmers who obey labor laws.

As Roy Beck of NumbersUSA reported: “226 Democrats took the side of law-breaking agri-business employers and their illegal workers against the legal workers in the ag industry.  Joining them in supporting the amnesty for employers who have massively broken immigration laws for years were 34 Republicans voting YES. …”

All 5 of Oregon’s Representatives voted to pass this betrayal of U.S. workers, increasing profits for employers by depressing workers’ wages and taking job opportunities away from citizens.  Standing up for U.S. citizen workers were 151 Republicans, 3 Democrats and one Independent.  You can see the record of the vote, showing how each member voted, here.

Hopefully the bill can be stopped in the Senate.  H.R. 5038 authorizes a major amnesty that will have far-reaching, harmful results for our country, now and in the future.  This article gives a vivid picture: 

FARMING LIKE IT’S 1699; It’s cheaper to invest in congressmen than in automation, by Mark Krikorian, in The National Review Dec. 10, 2019.    [Mr. Krikorian is a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues.  He has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.]

Excerpt:

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on the hilariously misnamed Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would “modernize” agricultural labor right back to the 17th century.

At the core of the bill are several indentured-labor schemes intended to tie current illegal aliens and future “temporary” workers to farm jobs for four to ten years before giving them green cards. The reason for the indenture system is that farmers know from experience that once the illegal aliens or visa workers get green cards, almost all will flee the medieval labor system that prevails in much of fresh fruit and vegetable agriculture.

Fact sheets on the bill are here and here. It provides immediate amnesty to illegal aliens (and their dependents) who have (or claim to have) worked at least part time in agriculture over the past two years. The number of beneficiaries is estimated to be at least 1.5 million. . . .

See the complete article here.

HR 5038, indentured labor dressed up as “modernization”

A huge amnesty for farm workers is pending in Congress now.  It’s already passed in the House.

------------------------------------------

The Rotten Fruits of America’s ‘Farm Workforce Modernization Act’/, by Bob Dane, Federation for American immigration Reform,  Nov. 25, 2019

Conventional wisdom holds that bipartisan legislation is the best form of law. The “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019” is a notable exception.

With 49 Republican and Democrat co-sponsors, HR 5038 sailed through the House Judiciary Committee last week. Because the bill was allowed to advance on a voice vote, there’s no official record of who voted which way.

Lawmakers had good reason to duck for cover while cheap-labor lobbyists and immigration enthusiasts exulted. Expanding the H-2A foreign guestworker program, HR 5038 would grant amnesty and a path to citizenship to more than 1 million illegal farm laborers. And contrary to its title, the bill doesn’t do a thing to “modernize” agriculture in this country. …

In essence, the bill tells illegal farm laborers: Work in unchanging conditions with no wage growth for around a decade and maybe you’ll get a green card. …

While illegal aliens account for 47 percent of U.S. farm workers, agriculture employs less than 1 percent of America’s labor force. Clearly, no one is going to starve if the industry’s illegal-alien spigot is turned off and immigration laws are enforced. We doubt anyone would even notice a difference on their grocery bill.

This counterproductive amnesty scheme has nothing to do with “farm workforce modernization” (in fact, it produces the opposite), and America doesn’t need HR 5038. It’s time Congress raised a bipartisan majority to reverse course and stop this cheap-labor combine.

------------------------------------------------

HR 5038, The Farm Workforce Modernization Act   [analysis and statement of opposition by the Federation for American immigration Reform]

 https://www.fairus.org/legislation/federal-legislation/hr-5038-farm-workforce-modernization-act

Contents. -  Farmworker Amnesty - Minor Changes to H-2A - Expansion of EB-3 Green Cards - E-Verify Only for Agriculture. - FAIR's Position on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038)

The answer to ag labor shortages

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies makes a persuasive pitch for mechanization in agriculture, ending dependence on humans to do stoop labor and other exhausting manual chores on farms.

In his blog of April 26, “A Robot in Every Field, he says:

“… An individual farmer is understandably concerned with the next crop, but policymakers should have a longer time horizon. Americans get wealthier when productivity grows, and in agriculture that means, among other things, the development and adoption of labor-saving technologies.  …

“Foreign-worker programs that import stoop labor represent an intervention by government specifically designed to prevent the inevitable rise in farm-labor costs in modern societies caused by urbanization and increased employment opportunities elsewhere.

“Increasing wages and benefits will undoubtedly help draw some people into (or back into) the farm-labor force, but it's true that few Americans are going to cut broccoli all day in the hot sun. Even Mexicans aren't going into farm work anymore; as two scholars write, 'Mexico is following the pattern of countries around the world: as its income rises, workers shift out of farm work into other sectors.'

“The solution isn't to give in to the lobbyists and scour ever-more remote corners of the world for people still willing to submit to a medieval-work regime. Instead, we need to allow Julian Simon's scarcity/innovation dance to proceed, so that robots continue to replace humans in the fields. In fact, if the White House feels the need to service the ag lobby, why not propose mechanization-loan guarantees to help small farmers wean themselves off stoop labor? Rather than promise a chicken in every pot, why not a robot in every field?”

Read the complete blog here.

Later, Neil Munro, of Breitbart.com, gathered comments on Krikorian’s proposal, and, in his article of April 28, also describes the current progress of mechanization in agriculture.  His article can be viewed here.

Washington Post: Farm Industry Is Being Forced to Replace Illegal Workforce

Excerpts:

The paper [Washington Post] reported February 21:

... With the election of Trump, employers said they knew that finding undocumented workers would probably become even more difficult. One Washington state farmer said he watched as his entire pool of undocumented workers crossed the border into Canada after Trump’s inauguration, fearing deportation. Another farmer, failing to find domestic workers in 2017, formed a partnership with a local prison, hiring detainees to work the fields as part of a voluntary work program.

Farm companies are importing more temporary visa workers via the H-2A program. In 2016, farm companies hired 165,000 temporary workers via the H2A program. In 2018, the number rose to 242,000 H-2A workers, who are expected to return home after 10 months of work.

Apple farms in Oregon are also looking to machines to curb their reliance on migrants to pick the most profitable fruit:  [photo]

The two articles in the Washington Post are notable because they recognize the impact of cheap-labor migration on U.S. technology and economics.

Most articles by establishment media outlets focus on the demands of U.S. employers and of foreign migrants and ignore the deeply damaging impact illegal and legal migration on Americans’ wages, salaries, productivity, and technological development.

For example, many major U.S. companies ally with foreign outsourcing firms to keep at least 1.5 million foreign college-graduates — including at least 650,000 H-1B workers — in the jobs sought by U.S. college graduates. That business strategy is made possible by government labor policy, and it spikes Wall Street values, shrinks salaries, and steers middle-class Americans away from technology jobs.

Overall, the U.S. agriculture industry is heavily mechanized and automated. High-tech machinery allows farmers and a few workers to plant, help, and harvest vast acreages of row crops, such as wheat, corn, potatoes, carrots, and soybeans. The huge harvests feed Americans and many people abroad.

The U.S. dairy industry is partly automated but lags behind European dairy farms who have shrunk their labor costs by buying cow-milking robots. Dairy farmers are lobbying to be allowed into the H-2A program and complain that government-set milk prices are too low for them to afford the cow-milking robots.

But there is little automation in the business of picking fruit, such as peaches, apples, and strawberries. Cheap illegal labor has allowed farm companies to ignore technology, but that strategy has run into a ditch.

Farms in Mexico and South America are using their expert managers, extra sunshine, and cheaper labor to deliver more food to their countries and to export more food to the U.S., so cutting into U.S. farmers’ share of the U.S. market.

That international competition is also forcing American farms to consider automating their harvests.

The asparagus industry shows the connection between labor costs and automation.

In California and Idaho, asparagus is picked by migrants carrying a long tool. In Michigan, where there are fewer migrants, farms use buggies to help a team of several migrants pick the crop faster. In Europe, where migrants are expensive, companies are trying to use bigger machines that can pick the asparagus crop with few workers.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - agriculture