Special Pleadings for More Agricultural Workers Continue—Despite High US Unemployment

“Immigration Overload” is my term for America’s plight. But the special pleadings just keep coming. The latest cry for importing more cheap labor comes from virtually everyone associated with agriculture:

Congress must make a national guest worker program that`s easier for farmers to use now that states including Georgia have passed laws targeting illegal immigrants that threaten possible labor shortages in the fields, Georgia`s agriculture commissioner said Tuesday.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black`s main recommendation came in a report [PDF] that lawmakers required his office to produce last year when they joined with Arizona, Alabama and other states in passing harsh laws targeting illegal immigrants. Georgia`s main farm lobbying groups opposed the move, arguing that immigration should be left to the federal government and that a crackdown would scare away migrant workers needed to harvest crops in the state`s largest economic sector.

Its main recommendation echoes longtime complaints from farmers who have called the federal guest worker program unwieldy and expensive, a criticism that became more urgent once state governments launched crackdowns on illegal immigrants…”The only answer lies in the prospects of a 21st century guest worker program at the federal level that meets the needs of all types of agricultural enterprises,” Black said at a news conference.

 [Ga. ag chief: Congress must fix immigration system, by Ray Henry, AP, January 4, 2012]

Awwwwww. So don’t spend the money for machines that will do the job, but dump the eventual high cost of these aliens, many of whom will likely stay on, on John and Lucy Q Taxpayer!  That has certainly been the history.

But remember Tyson’s notorious importation of aliens to pluck chickens? The company has now gone mechanical and the need has been reduced.

We are in a technological age, where mechanical means can be found to do anything.

Remember hand milking cows’ tender teats? Cows are now almost universally milked by machine—otherwise dairy farmers would be trying to bring in milkmaids by the hundred thousand.

The AP article goes on to talk about the Federal guest worker program.

[Ag Commissioner] Black [Email him] praised members of Georgia`s Congressional delegation for backing bills that he said would improve the guest worker program. He said the federal program should be run by U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the U.S. Department of Labor. He also said that instead of requiring farmers to provide guest workers with housing, growers should be allowed to give workers a voucher to obtain their housing elsewhere.”

Talk about more entrenchment of imported foreign labor. The farmers already have a legal guest worker program, [H-2A Visas] but they’re unwilling to pay for it.

Then more boost for this guest worker concept at a time when we are badly in need of jobs. Has anyone heard of paying enough to get Americans to do the jobs?

AP continues:

“In his recommendations, Black suggested that state agriculture officials could educate Georgia farmers on how to use the federal guest worker program. Many farmers told Black`s office that the federal program either would not work for their farms or they heard only bad things about it — or nothing at all”.

How many jobs are we talking about? AP’s story is not clear:

“Determining the economic impact of the new law on the agriculture sector remains extremely difficult. Black`s report offers some glimpses, though few firm answers.

Just over 20 percent of farmers who responded to a state survey said they hired fewer workers in 2011 than the average during the previous five years. Those growers cited factors that included a poor economy, loss of revenue, difficulties retaining workers and a lack of available labor. Black`s office said it was not clear whether any of the reported labor shortages were a direct result of the state`s crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Black said growers blamed labor shortages for causing $10 million in losses, and some farmers pinned the lack of workers on the state`s immigration crackdown. Those self-reported figures are imperfect because they came from a relatively small group of farmers.”

In other words: more special pleading.

Ag Commissioner Black’s final comment in this story is certainly correct:

“It shows that we have a problem,” Black said. “We can talk about the magnitude of losses, and they were substantial in Georgia, but really I think we get lost in this million versus that million. We have to look at solutions.”

Which seem to me to be: pay enough that American workers will do the job. Or invent a machine.

Surely, with million out of work and many no longer looking, the claim that there are “jobs Americans won’t do” is simply ludicrous.

These special pleadings are never going to stop—because our Congress and other elected officials get paid to do the will of the pleaders.

Donald A. Collins [email him], a free lance writer living in Washington, DC. , is a long-time board member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR). However, his views are his own.