Supporters of the monstrous S.744 immigration legislation argue that the provisions giving legal status to illegal agricultural workers are needed to end their exploitation. At the same time they are prepared to go along with a new guestworker provision that brings in new foreign agricultural workers.
“Unlike in 1986, growers and worker advocates say the current reform proposal would also ensure that a poor, illegal class of farmworkers isn’t created again — by including a viable guest worker program that would allow for a flow of legal temporary workers into California’s fields.” (Associated Press, May 26, 2013)
The twisted logic of this position becomes obvious when you recognize that the nation already has an agricultural guestworker visa program to legally bring foreign workers into the country. Those temporary workers who have returned to their home countries at the end of the harvest will not benefit from the amnesty while those who have stayed here illegally will benefit. The legal agricultural workers are somewhat more protected against employer abuse than those working illegally but, nevertheless, the amnesty supporters appear to be satisfied with having the harvest of the nation’s fruits and vegetables permanently dependent on foreign workers to harvest at wages too low to attract many U.S. residents.
Either those advocates are in fact comfortable with the exploitation of foreign workers or their agenda includes continuing to support new amnesties to offer permanent residence to the new crop of foreign agricultural workers. If it is the latter, that is a treadmill that will continue to flood the country with poorly educated and low skilled workers who – after gaining legal status – will compete with and lower wages and working conditions for our homegrown most vulnerable workers.