Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Old MacDonald Had Undocumented Workers

You may have missed this story last week, what with the debt limit kerfuffle and all. The gist:

Farmers across the country are rallying to fight a Republican-sponsored bill that would force them and all other employers to verify the legal immigration status of their workers...

The agriculture industry is afraid that verification means they won't be able to fill jobs. They're flat-out admitting that the industry is built on the backs of undocumented workers:

In a May letter to the members of the Judiciary Committee, Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau, cited a Labor Department survey placing the percentage of illegal workers in the fields at more than 50 percent. Other groups say the figure is closer to 70 percent. Denying farmers that labor supply, Mr. Stallman wrote, would cost them $5 billion to $9 billion annually.

Imagine the right-wing outrage if a similar statistic were true of the workforce at NPR. But there's little outrage, because most farmers vote Republican. Although this issue has them talking like liberal Democrats:

Most growers...favor measures that would grant legal status, at least temporarily, to illegal immigrant farm workers already in the country. 

It'll be interesting to see if House Republicans really do pass this bill, and whether it picks up a farm-sized loophole along the way.