News / USA

US Farmers Keep Eye on Immigration Reform

Elizabeth Lee
— American farmers are experiencing a shortage of people to work their fields.  The workers they do have are largely from Latin America and in the United States with false documents.  Farmers say without immigration reform, both problems will continue.

Imperial Valley farmers call this the dead season.  Summer temperatures consistently stay above 38 degrees Celsius.  Not much is growing in the fields at the moment, but in the winter there will be lettuce and celery on the ground and in the spring, cantaloupes and watermelons.  

But even in the summer dead season, there is work for Francisco Saucedo.  He drives a tractor, tilling the field to prepare the land for planting in the autumn.  He lives in Mexico and wakes up at two in the morning everyday to beat the long lines at the border crossing, so he can start work at 6:00 am.

Watch video report:



“Right here, a dollar is a dollar.  But in Mexico it is 13 pesos.  So if I work over there, what I am doing right here [in U.S.,] I get paid about $6 dollars a day over there [in Mexico], Saucedo explained. But in the United States, Saucedo makes as much as $90 a day.  

Second generation farmer Larry Cox said growing and harvesting vegetables depends on migrants or day laborers from Mexico, but not enough of them are crossing the border. “We have had a chronic shortage of help almost for the last 10 years,” Cox stated.

Cox said it has been difficult getting visas to work in the United States, so many farm workers from Latin America would work with fake documents.  

Western Growers President Tom Nassif said there are approximately 11 million workers in the United States with false documents. “Of that 11 million, 1.2 million work in agriculture,” he stated.

Nassif has been working with lawmakers in Congress on immigration reform.  He supports the bill passed by the Senate that would legalize the workers who are already in the United States and eventually provides a path to citizenship.

The union representing the farm workers also supports the Senate bill.  The United Farm Workers Foundation’s Erica Lomeli said reform will improve the working conditions of many migrants who often work in harsh conditions and are sometimes exploited by their employers. “So they will have a right to stand up for themselves and not be intimidated or in many states be put in slave-like positions,” she explained.

The House of Representatives still has to pass its own version or versions of the bill before Congress votes on a final reform.  Growers and the farm workers union also want a guest-worker program, something farmers say will solve the labor shortage problem.  If reform does not happen, farm owner Jack Vessey said the labor shortage on farms in the U.S. will have a global impact. “If we can not get this harvested, it is not going to come from the U.S. anymore.  It is going to come from off shore.  It is going to come from somewhere else,” he said.

And consumers might have to pay a higher price for fruits and vegetables.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid