Los Angeles Times
June 22, 2012
Every harvest season, U.S. produce growers have a narrow window in which the success of an entire year’s work is dependent on human labor. With some crops, this window is only a few days. But finding a secure, reliable workforce to bring in the harvest can be extremely difficult. Over the last decade, American farmers have floated many ideas for remedying this situation, but they haven’t been able to stir up the political will to change a broken immigration system.
Both political parties share in the failure to act. In 2009 and 2010, Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, yet there was no action on immigration reform. Republicans, who claim to be solidly behind American farmers, have also dropped the ball on immigration, using the issue only to scare voters and win elections. Members of both parties clearly understand that farmworkers do not take jobs away from American workers, and yet they resist introducing reforms.
One exception to the impasse came in 2006. That year, both Democrats and Republicans agreed that the need was so great for a particular class of worker that they cooperated in finding a way to allow noncitizens across our borders. The legislation, passed by Congress and signed into law by PresidentGeorge W. Bush, created a new guest-worker visa program for foreign-born athletes entering the U.S. to begin careers in professional hockey, basketball and baseball.