Senator Craig`s AgJOBS Amnesty—Feeding AgriBusiness` Cheap Labor Addiction
Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) is
staking his career on the stalled AgJOBS bill—the
measure that will give three million illegal farmworkers
temporary work permits and a chance to
hit the jackpot: American citizenship.
Craig nevertheless threatened to continue to bring his
AgJOBS bill up for a vote until he succeeded.
Said Craig about the millions of aliens who would
eventually be amnestied by AgJOBS,
"By their presence,
they better us. They make our lives better, and in this
issue with American agriculture, there is no question,
they help to produce the abundance on the supermarket
shelves and the family tables of America.
Apparently, the motto for the immigration enthusiasts is,
"Damn the torpedoes!
Full speed ahead."
was struck by the timing of Craig`s diatribe. One week
earlier, the University of California at Davis hosted a
daylong seminar to review the "provisions" and
"likely implementation issues" of AgJOBS.
Among the featured speakers who traveled a mighty long
way from Washington DC were:
- Charles Wheeler,
Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
Also featured were local advocates:
- Cruz Reynoso,
Professor of Law at UC Davis, namesake of the
Cruz Reynoso Social Justice Fellowship Award and
darling of former presidents
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton
- U.S. Representative
Howard Berman (D-Cal). Berman, a co-sponsor of AgJOBS.
Berman has supported legislation that favors illegal
aliens thirty times since 1999.
"Projects designed to
achieve change in public social policy regarding
immigrant integration through employment, language access
and immigrant rights."
Goldstein, summarizing how his coalition views AgJOBS,
alleges that it is important to reward "unauthorized
immigrants" by creating an "earned legalization"
obtain a temporary immigration status by proving that
they been employed in U.S. agriculture in the recent past
either as a legal guest worker or as an undocumented
worker. If the temporary resident then performs a
specified amount of agricultural work, during a three to
six year period, he or she could convert to lawful
permanent resident status and receive a `green card.`
Security checks would prevent terrorists, criminals and
other unwanted individuals from using the program. The
farm worker`s spouse and minor children also would
eventually become eligible to be immigrants."
Deserve Immigration Solutions, Not Excuses,
October 4, 2004, By Bruce Goldstein]
Further, Goldstein argues that,
"Some object to AgJOBS
saying that people who crossed our borders illegally
should not be `rewarded` with an `amnesty.` AgJOBS is not
an `amnesty.` It contains tough, multi-year work
requirements to earn immigration status.
And finally that,
"These farm workers
already live and work in the United States; this nation
has not been willing, and is not going, to
yeah? It remains to be seen whether the U.S. can summon
the will to deport illegal aliens. And Goldstein`s
position has several flaws.
- First and most
is an amnesty. How else can you define a program
wherein people enter the US illegally but then are
offered a path to citizenship?
- Secondly, how
"tough" really are the work requirements that lead
to amnesty? To qualify, a worker must prove 100 days of
agricultural employment in the 18-month period that
ended Aug. 31, 2003. Then, prior to receiving amnesty,
workers would have to show 360 days of additional farm
work over the next six years.
That translates to roughly
sixty working days per year.
- Third, as to the
so-called "security checks,"
Roy Beck, President of
Americans for Better Immigration, comments:
"We have an immigration
system that is totally overwhelmed with millions of
transactions that they don`t seriously oversee. AgJOBS
would add millions more transactions to that work
overload. Who believes that each of these amnestied
workers would truly be screened when that isn`t happening
for the legal entrants already in the queue?
“We need to be removing
work from DHS to get better security, not adding to it."
Here are a few points that Goldstein conveniently
- The U.S. has never
demonstrated the slightest ability to administer any
immigration or non-immigrant visa program. All previous
resulted in abuse and fraud. The AgJOBS bill would
be more of the same.
- Amnesties beget
amnesties. Since 1986, Congress has passed seven
amnesties. Currently, eight bills are pending that
could become the next amnesty.
Instead of constantly debating about how to fairly treat
these long-suffering and exploited workers, we should
instead be focused on
eliminating the need for laborers—by moving more
rapidly toward agricultural mechanization.
This week I spoke with Galen K. Brown, a co-author of a
December 2000 Center for Immigration Studies Report
"Alternatives to Immigrant Labor? The Status of Fruit
and Vegetable Harvest Mechanization in the United
asked Brown, recently retired from the Florida Department
of Citrus, if the US had made any progress on
mechanization since his paper was published.
he replied. "Almost no research and development work
on mechanization has been done by either states or the
federal government. It has been left to the growers who
cannot afford to do it."
"Hand labor is not the
long term solution but automation is. Growers could cut
costs and workers would earn a living wage. Yet nothing
After talking with Brown, I realized even more clearly
how misguided Craig and his Congressional colleagues are.
For the sake of the growers, the workers and the
consumers, Congress should rearrange its priorities to
farm mechanization research instead of promoting
shift away from repeated amnesties and guest worker
programs driven by Congress and special interest groups
would create agricultural conditions that are truly, to
use Craig`s own words from his Senate speech, "safe,
productive and economically beneficial".
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.