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The Next Phase of Immigration Reform
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:26 pm    Post subject: The Next Phase of Immigration Reform Reply with quote

This is another of those debates I'm damned tired of, but there questions raised here that to which we haven't paid more than the most cursory lip service. It'd be really great if we could focus on those questions now, rather than regurgitating old opinion.
Quote:
Immigration raids hurting farmers
Growers say crackdown is causing workers to flee; now they want reform

By Moira Herbst
Updated: 11:37 a.m. PT Oct 26, 2007

Maureen Torrey, an 11th-generation farmer in the rural town of Elba, N.Y., has been losing sleep. Just as rows of cabbage and winter squash stand ready for harvest on her 11,000 acre farm, she can't find enough workers to bring in the crops. She needs about 350 workers and is 70 short of that number. "I wake up at 3:30 in the morning and my mind doesn't shut off," she says.

The problem, she says, is fear. Torrey Farms, a 14-crop vegetable farm located an hour east of Buffalo, has been raided twice since last October, when she says immigration officials kicked in the doors of workers' housing and apprehended 34. In August, officials arrested seven workers and 14 more fled the area. Amid continued talk of a federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants, she's afraid still more of her workforce will flee to less hostile terrain. With a population of about 9,000, the town of Elba, "Onion Capital of the World" to locals, may not have the manpower to replace them.

"With all the raids, people get scared and leave, and I don't blame them," says Torrey. She says now rumors are running rampant that another sweep is planned for Nov. 15. "It's terrible. This is the worst I've seen."

A climate of fear is spreading among undocumented immigrant workers, causing turmoil in industries dependent on their labor. In August the Homeland Security Dept. announced that employers would be required to terminate workers who fail to produce valid Social Security numbers. Implementation of the new rule is delayed pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought against the government by the umbrella labor union group, the AFL-CIO.

But while the new rule has yet to take effect, its impact is already being felt by farmers like Torrey. An estimated three-quarters of agricultural workers in the U.S. are undocumented, and growers are starting to feel the paralyzing effects of losing their workforce. They say that unless the government implements workable reforms, the future of the U.S. as a food-producing nation is in jeopardy.

Import workers, or import food
Agriculture does not play the role it once did in the U.S. economy, of course. Though the amount of farmland used has remained fairly steady over the past century, changes to the structure of farms and improvements in productivity have cut the number of people involved dramatically. In 1900, for example, 41% of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture, while that number now stands at less than 2%. Farmers hire workers for about 3 million agricultural jobs each year, but only one-quarter of that workforce is legally authorized. Agriculture also makes up a lower share of the U.S. gross domestic product than ever, accounting for less than 1%.

Still, farm advocates say that immigrant workers are allowing U.S. farmers to compete in a fierce global marketplace, and that losing the workforce means losing domestic sources of food. "The choice is simple: Do we want to import workers or import food?" says Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform.

U.S. consumers may see little or no effect from the crackdown, but farmers like Torrey certainly will. Losing farm labor in the U.S. is likely to result in a shift of market share to foreign producers from domestic ones, rather than much change in food prices. "Farmers all over the world are salivating at the prospect that we won't be able to produce here," says James Holt, an agricultural labor economist. "They are more than happy to produce for us."

The chief issue in lost U.S. production, say Holt and others, is security. "What's at stake here is not prices, but food safety," he says. Torrey and other farmers agree. "We need to wake up to the realities of food safety and security issues," says Torrey. "A country not in control of its food supply is a weak nation."

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21491778/
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its a good article. I hate to say it, but I hate the illegal immigration problem we have. I dont have a problem with immigrants who come in legally and integrate into society and become part of the greater good, participate in making our nation stronger, paying taxes and contributing to our resources, but when they come in illegally, form their own closed groups, dont pay taxes, don't speak the language, and make money to send back home, we get all of the debt and resource drain on welfare, medical care and systems we have in place to take care of our own citizens, and none of the benefits of an increased tax base and a reinvestment of earned monies back into our economy.

Yes, it's a problem when we don't have enough resources to help harvest our crops, and do other work that is required to keep food and other resources available, but those are the problems we need to address, rather than make a case to continue to allow this drain on our economy.

Quote:
The chief issue in lost U.S. production, say Holt and others, is security. "What's at stake here is not prices, but food safety," he says. Torrey and other farmers agree. "We need to wake up to the realities of food safety and security issues," says Torrey. "A country not in control of its food supply is a weak nation."


We need to wake up to the realities that illegal immigration is causing on our country, because a country not in control of immigration and our own resources is a weaker nation.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the drain on capital (despite the fact that their payroll is taxed, but they aren't eligible for benefits) weakens us more than having to depend on other countries for our food?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a lot of their payroll is likely under the table. If they are illegal immigrants (undocumented = illegal), then they don't have a social security number and thus they can't be legally on the books. If they aren't legally on the books, then they arent paying taxes. Any money they earn is probably going back out of the country to their family. This means money is funnelled out of our country and into their economy.

As far as buying food from other countries, well if we dont have enough laborers to help with the harvest, then this is the problem we need to fix rather than allowing illegal immigrants to do it for us. I beleive this was what GW was trying to do with documenting workers and getting them temporary work permits. IIRC, of course.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

help me here. the farms have cheap (near slave) labor. this labor is drawn mostly from illegal immigrants. rather than pay a decent wage these farmers want to be allowed to continue the exploitation of labor.

that is the argument here?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, that's one way of looking at it, sure.

iQ...they still buy things don't they? That contributes. And if they're being paid under the table, chances are they're getting paid less anyway, which means more to tax the employer on?

I dunno...A country obviously has the right to control immigration. Maybe make it easier for temporary workers to enter legally and monitor to make sure they leave?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Well, that's one way of looking at it, sure.

iQ...they still buy things don't they? That contributes. And if they're being paid under the table, chances are they're getting paid less anyway, which means more to tax the employer on?

I dunno...A country obviously has the right to control immigration. Maybe make it easier for temporary workers to enter legally and monitor to make sure they leave?

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It doesn't matter if they buy, and they don't spend all of it or even most of it here anyway. And there isn't a federal tax or national sales tax here (there should be, the Fair Tax act would make sure everyone paid taxes who was spending money) so all we get from what they buy is state tax, and only in some states.

As far as the pay, I don't know what they are paid, but it is likely near the amount they'd have after taxes were taken out of a legal workers wages. But I am guessing.

GWB had a plan to document workers and make it easer for them the get jobs here, and we'd have them as a tax base. I think it died though.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*shrug* Sending money home is an old and time-honoured tradition. You're not going to prevent that, however hard you try.

I really do think that the best solution is to allow people as guest workers, (i.e. make it less necessary to enter illegally), with a fixed tax, but also with checks in place to make sure that they're not exploited either.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
*shrug* Sending money home is an old and time-honoured tradition. You're not going to prevent that, however hard you try.

I really do think that the best solution is to allow people as guest workers, (i.e. make it less necessary to enter illegally), with a fixed tax, but also with checks in place to make sure that they're not exploited either.

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I'd go for that.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about the agriculture business, but I can speak for construction.

Undocumented workers are nearly always paid under the table at a rate that is far lower than would otherwise be paid. The result is the near divine right assumed by homebuilders to a 2/3 profit on new homes (you read that right, the homebuilder is pocketing $200,000 on a $300,000 home), which in turn has driven the cost of new homes sky-high. Housing bubble anyone?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I wonder what it does to the quality of the homes...

Huh, so the workers would actually get more by paying regular tax? Except of course, they probably wouldn't be hired if they were legal...

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Home quality is roughly the same, since the inspection process is (relatively) uniform. Then again, if people knew what went on in their homes before they were finished.....

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the illegals are netting less than the documented workers....The framers are, at least.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like the real beneficiaries are the businesses that hire them, whatever the field.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, them and the consumer.

Which is why any meaningful clampdown has to address the businesses that hire illegals as well as the illegals themselves.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I've always said, I think the businesses are even more important to address. If nobody hired illegals, why wuld illegals want to go there?

The consumer? Oh...you saying that that 300K house would be more like 400K if they used legal labour?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For education, welfare, and health care.

Yeah, assuming that the homebuilder maintains their ridiculous profit margin, it would.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sgt.null wrote:
help me here. the farms have cheap (near slave) labor. this labor is drawn mostly from illegal immigrants. rather than pay a decent wage these farmers want to be allowed to continue the exploitation of labor.

that is the argument here?


Sarge about summed it up for me.

The article doesnt tell you what they are willing to pay people to harvest the crops. They also dont tell you if the farmer put in a request for the number of 'legal migrant workers'. Im betting very few if any, because if they are here legally then you have to pay them more.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got into an argument with my neighbor over this exact issue. We have a lot of undocumented workers here, and they wouldnt be here if there wasnt work.

Anyway, anytime he decides to do some serious yard work, he goes to the special gas station, across from Home Depot, holds out his hand with 3 or 4 finger up, and that many mexicans get into the back of his truck. he brings them home, tells them what he wants done, feeds them lunch and brings them water, and then, at the end of the day, gives them $50 - $75 bucks apiece and drives them back to the gas station.

I think he is part of the problem; If we want to go after undocumented workers, we also have to go after the people and businesses that take advantage of cheap illegal labor. These businesses are the real problem we have to solve, because if there isnt work, they wont come and put a drain on our economy.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with sarge and SB on this, too.

Of COURSE businesses who rely on illegal immigrants are going to suffer if they lose their illegal immigrants. (Otherwise the problem would have been fixed a long time ago.)

But ... unlike Cail's housing example, the way markets work is that once the margin is taken away from you, it's hard to get it back. All these farmers used low labor costs to make low produce prices work. But once your business depends on $1/hr laborers, its damn near impossible to stay in business and start paying minimum wage.

A mess of their own devising. But it explains why they fight tooth and nail. They have a monkey on their backs - a dependency that they cannot kick.

The excuses that follows are the same as the one everyone addicted to something has given at one point or another.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that's pretty much the same as Cail's housing example. The low labour means your house costs 300K instead of 400K. The builder is gonna want to put the same in his pocket no matter what.

Reduce the incentives, (jobs) and you'll automatically reduce illegal immigration. and the way to reduce the incentive is heavy penalties on people who hire illegal immigrants. The immigrants are shit outta luck, and I feel for them, I really do. But if the US wants to reduce the "problem" that's the way to do it.

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