Growers and labor contractors will tell you that the area can't afford to lose more workers. Some say that the current farm labor shortage — of as much as 50% — made the effects of last month's freeze worse than it otherwise would have been. The recent crackdown on the border is being felt in this corner of the Central Valley.(read the rest)
"If we had more workers, we could have picked up to 75% of the crop," said Lindsay-born labor contractor Alice Gutierrez. Growers had a week's notice that the freeze, which caused an estimated $418 million in damage in Tulare County alone, was imminent.
Lindsay Mayor Ed Murray says the worst-case scenario is that the town could lose up to 30% of its labor force. "Regardless of whether they're legal or illegal, it's imperative that we have workers here for next year's harvest," he said. Murray hopes that the federal government will find a way to not only aid his town's residents in the short term but to legalize the undocumented.
Given the divisiveness of the national debate, it is remarkable how many people here recognize the need for the workers who have come to this country illegally. Perhaps not surprisingly, business people, who already are feeling the pain of the freeze, are most likely to make the case.
I have about had it up to here with the illegal immigrant debate and the non-California born"nativists" yammering about how illegals are this and illegals are that.
And I have also about had it with the "guest worker" hot air coming out of DC with nary a solution in sight.
I come from an agricultral region of Northern California and I am born in that state. And, like a lot of people from that region my age, I have worked in the agricultural sector briefly. (In my case, it was a tomato cannery.
A lot of the nativist talk down in SoCal seems to be coming from people who are not from California. The Minutemen are an especially obnoxious lot, with a lot of time on their hands. They appear to be either retired or unemployed.
Well, I have a question for those folks: now that some of the orchard produce is getting ready to come in and a number of the other crops need weeding, would you like me to tell the folks up in NorCal that I know with orchards and farms that you are coming? You're legal and seem to have nothing better to do. I know I'm not going- I've already seen what it's like and I'm not going to do it again. Since you're not washing dishes or cleaning houses or anything else that many illegals do down here, why don't you do your part and climb those trees and weed those rows?
Then, maybe you'll have a better understanding about the relationship between California and Mexico, and shut up.