The Proof Is In The…Raisins?

One of the amusements in the
immigration reform game is to watch the

protestations from the other side.

Now that our opponents are

decisively on the defensive,
their arguments for
more immigration grow increasingly less persuasive…even,
I`ll bet, to themselves.

Of course, it helps that

immigration reformers
know the score and can`t be


Having the facts burned into our
minds helps plenty.

For example in today`s case, the
subject is


agricultural workers
—two topics on which I am well

Los Angeles Times columnist
Michael Hiltzik—yes, none other than the winner of the

“VDARE.COM Second Annual Worst Immigration Coverage”

award and one of my subjects

last week
!—tried to pass off his September 22 piece,

Border Policy is Pinching Farmers
, as an
insightful look at how the farming industry will fall to
pieces unless more

ag workers
are immediately given visas to come to
the U.S.

Wrote Hiltzik:

“…A severe shortage of farm
workers has placed a $29-billion industry at risk.
 Raisin growers in the Central Valley were 40,000
workers short of the 50,600 needed for the annual
harvest that began in mid-August, according to Manuel
Cunha, president of the Fresno-based

Nisei Farmers League

“As a result, he says, half the crop was still on the
vines Tuesday. After that day, unharvested fruit would
not be covered by federal insurance if spoiled by rain.
The rains came Wednesday. Cunha says crop losses could
reach $300 million.”

Harvesting raisins is one of the toughest jobs in agriculture—no
question about it.

But if indeed there is a shortage of laborers—not at all proven by
Hiltzik in his column—should the first cry from always
be for more imported workers?

My answer is no.

Here are four questions I`d like answered before we open the floodgates
again with another guest worker program.

  • First of all, can we at least try to find last year`s
    raisin workers?

Hiltzik quotes the Nisei Farmers League`s claim that 40,000 of 2004`s
50,600 pickers have vanished. But have they? Some
probably latched onto better jobs in

. A handful may have returned to Mexico.
But the vast majority have not

strayed very far
, believe me! Priority number one is
to find them.

  • Second, once we locate them, how about paying a
    decent wage for a change? According to Hiltzik, contributing to the
    labor shortage

“Low pay and harsh conditions.”

To reinforce his point,
Hiltzik quoted Marc Grossman, a spokesman for the

United Farm Workers
, who said:

"This is a disaster of the
growers` own making. Despite the dearth of laborers, pay
in the fields hasn`t improved much in recent years. Many
workers collect scarcely more than minimum wage for
brutal, backbreaking toil.”

That could be the understatement of the century. According to

Migration News

“Most workers can harvest 300 to 400 trays of green
grapes in a nine-hour day, for daily earnings of $60 or
$80 per day at the 2004 piece rate of about $0.20 a

Even the growers concede that their pay scale is not competitive with
other job options available to illegal aliens. Hiltzik
pointed specifically to

construction jobs
that offer $9.00-$12.00 an hour.
(Why isn`t Hiltzik screaming about the long-gone

American construction worker
done in by that paltry
wage offered to and accepted only by illegal aliens?)

The UFW has consistently

argued that there is no labor shortage
. According to
it, the farmers want more guest worker programs so that
they can continue to pay rock bottom wages.

  • Fourth, if the raisins are always rotting in the
    fields (this

    same claim
    was made by the Nisei Farmers League in
    1998 but little came of it), why isn`t there a

    shortage in the market?

As an avid
home baker

ice cream
maker, I am an above-average consumer of
raisins. For fifteen years, I have been buying all types
and varieties at the

Lodi Farmers Market
for $3.00 per pound.

No serious shortage
is anticipated this year,
according to my sources.

Furthermore, I would be happy to pay more for

if it meant a job for an American.

VDARE.COM has repeatedly

made the case
that U.S. workers can fill any job if
they are

paid a fair salary
. Americans will not, however,
haul raisins for $ 0.20 cents a tray.

But the point that we do not need guest workers to harvest raisins is
secondary to the fact that

Hiltzik, our bitter foe
, recognizes our point
perfectly. In fact, he acknowledges that wages are key
to the worker shortage.

But instead of following up on that critical aspect of the argument, he
drops it to take up the cause of the proposed

Kennedy-McCain guest worker/amnesty legislation.

What Hiltzik is guilty of the immigration enthusiasts` characteristic
flaw: intellectual dishonesty.

For example, Hiltzik disingenuously neglected to expand on the
importance of good weather in raisin harvesting. Bad
weather means more than losses unrecoverable by
insurance; it means no raisins. (California
Raisin Growers Try to Save Crop After Early Season Storm
Julianna Barbassa, San Francisco Chronicle,
September 22, 2005)

What then, do you suppose Hiltzik proposes we should do with those guest
workers if they came to California only to encounter a
week of rain?

The crops would be ruined while the workers take off to the public

Hiltzik knows we`re right; he admits as much in his column. Remember
Hiltzik`s own words …”low pay and harsh

But Hiltzik can`t quite bring himself to explain his true feelings: that
he prefers to see America

made over

rather than pay living wages to U.S. workers.
him why]

That is clearly the attitude of his employer—“La Times,”
as it is known among the

few remaining
English speakers in Los Angeles.

The bad news for the LA Times and Hiltzik: the newspaper`s
few remaining readers are smarter than they are.

That`s why, as
last week, the

LA Times
circulation is in

free fall

And it is also why the paper will continue to lose readers with every
passing week.

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.