immigration agriculture

immigration agriculture: Page 1

Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Why the AFB study claiming immigration enforcement will devastate agriculture is wrong - 02/10/14

The American Farm Bureau has released a one-dimensional study claiming a veritable armageddon if farmers don't get all the cheap labor they want. Over the decades, farmers have become hooked on cheap foreign serf labor. Rather than kicking the habit, they constantly spread propaganda designed to get more of their "drug".

GOP "Standards for Immigration Reform": how it's wrong, how it won't work, what you can do - 01/30/14

The GOP "Standards for Immigration Reform" have been released. It's a short summary of the guidelines the Republican Party leadership will use for their own amnesty push.

First I'll quote the full document, followed by a discussion of some of the ways it won't work and it misleads. That's followed by some very effective things you can do to stop the GOP effort.

Ben Powell promotes Red Card plan, H1Bs using shaky economics (immigration, Forbes) - 10/19/13

In Forbes, Ben Powell of Texas Tech University offers "A U.S. Worker Shortage Calls For 'Red Card' Immigration Reform" ( ). A discussion of how the article is wrong follows this excerpt:

Study: amnesty could shift agricultural workers to cities, decrease wages for Americans - 01/29/13

From this:

Granting residency to undocumented immigrants in California could increase competition for low-end jobs as agricultural laborers shift to cities, while boosting tax revenues as other undocumented workers seek higher-paying positions previously denied to them, experts say.

Howard Buffett shouts "Viva Mexico!"; supports amnesty and guest workers; enables illegal immigration; wins Mex. govt award - 12/02/12

That very long title is more than justified since Howard Buffett - son of Warren Buffett - has been very busy supporting very bad immigration policies.

Matt Yglesias' crooked, libertarian, cheap serf labor scheme (immigration, Slate, DREAM Act) - 06/20/12

I'm more (traditionally) liberal on immigration than Matt Yglesias of Slate: I want to raise wages and working conditions, while Yglesias peddles libertarian concepts designed to reduce wages and working conditions.

Julia Preston can't or won't follow the money and power (Mark Shurtleff, New York Times, immigration) - 06/15/12

In April, Julia Preston of the New York Times offered "A Die-Hard Conservative, but Not on Immigrants" [1] about Utah's former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, a supporter of illegal immigration.

Fareed Zakaria's GPS Road Map for immigration (CNN, Bloomberg, globalism, Kobach) - 06/06/12

On Sunday, June 10th, CNN will be broadcasting a Fareed Zakaria show [1] called "Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Making Immigration Work".

Tom Vilsack promotes illegal activity, uses bogus "crops rotting" line - 02/24/12

At the Department of Agriculture's 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Ag secretary Tom Vilsack once again promoted illegal activity now and an amnesty or guest workers program for illegal aliens in the future.

With millions of Americans unemployed, Keith Olbermann promotes cheap, exploitable foreign labor (Georgia immigration law, Matt Ramsey) - 06/25/11

On his June 23 show, Keith Olbermann supported cheap, illegal foreign labor working in sometimes dangerous conditions rather than legal workers working for acceptable wages under safe conditions. And, he either fell for or tried to promote pro-illegal immigration propaganda.

With millions unemployed, Ag Secy Tom Vilsack demeans American workers, promotes amnesty, opposes enforcement, uses bogus talking points, opposes eVerify - 05/27/11

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a press conference on Wednesday in which he demeaned American workers, promoted immigration "reform", opposed immigration enforcement, and used a series of bogus immigration talking points.

An account of his remarks is here, with more excerpts at [1].

1. Vilsack ran down American workers, saying: "While some American citizens step up and take (farm) jobs, the truth is even when farmers make their best effort to recruit a domestic workforce, few citizens express interest. In large part that's because this is hard, tough work." The idea that growers want to recruit Americans is more than a bit dubious; many run down American workers as much as Vilsack. Growers tend to prefer lower-wage, more compliant illegal aliens. And, we sent a man to the moon and won World War II, now Vilsack falsely says that most Americans don't want hard work. That's also more than a bit dubious because a good percentage of those doing farm work are in fact Americans. And, there's the fact that the presence of large numbers of illegal aliens tends to reduce farm wages at the same time as decreasing safety in farm jobs.

The pro-American alternative would be for Vilsack to oppose illegal immigration and push something like this plan to get unemployed Americans working temporary farm jobs until the economy improves. That would answer the labor shortage complaints of farmers, improve working conditions on farms, and would save money overall (considering that most of those unemployed will be getting unemployment insurance and considering the costs of illegal aliens).

2. Vilsack supported comprehensive immigration reform, aka amnesty. See the link for the downsides of that plan [1].

3. One of the key selling points of immigration "reform" is that it would include stepped-up enforcement. Vilsack seems not to be such a fan of enforcement, saying: "It's difficult to know when someone is documented and when someone isn't. It's difficult when there are efforts at enforcement that basically disrupt not only undocumented folks but also documented … which we've seen in some of the processing facilities." If "reform" passed, does anyone think Vilsack would do a 180 and support "disrupt[ive]" immigration raids?

4. Vilsack used a long list of bogus talking points. The first item above is the jobs Americans wont do canard, but there were several more. From the article:

Reforms would result in "a reliable, legal workforce," said Vilsack. Reforms would also:

* Continue efforts "to secure the borders."
* Hold accountable "businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers."

The first is secure the border. The second is what boils down to the immigration wage floor. See both links.

Vilsack also used the deportations false choice, saying "The reality is, if you tried to deport all 12 million it would take several hundred years. That isn't practical." See the link for how he tried to mislead.

Vilsack - just as his boss, George W Bush, and dozens of other hacks have done - used the system is broken canard [2].

5. Vilsack also ran down the eVerify program, at least as a standalone solutiion, saying: "The E-Verify system creates a potential difficulty, particularly for smaller businesses... That's because they'd have to invest resources in equipment and training to participate."

Vilsack was accompanied by Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who engaged in crops rotting in the fields scare tactics:

"Our concern is that without a legal agricultural guest worker program in place – or without comprehensive immigration reform – you have roughly 500,000 workers out there that, frankly, would be screened out (by) a mandatory E-Verify program. If that happens, the risk of production losses, or production moving outside the country, is very real... If you just put in a mandatory E-Verify program, there's suddenly a huge gap in agricultural that must be filled from somewhere. Otherwise, the crops won't be planted and harvested. That's the reality."

[1] Vilsack: "There needs to be a comprehensive immigration system that deals with the 12 million people here, many working in our farm fields."

[2] Vilsack: "I've met farmers and ranchers all over this country who are worried about the broken immigration system... Simply put, our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers trying to do the right thing and make a living...

Georgia farmers, landscapers plead for cheap, illegal labor (HB 87, SB 40, Farm Bureau, Agribusiness Council) - 04/05/11

Republicans in Georgia have introduced two Arizona-style immigration bills: House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 40. They'd require businesses to use the eVerify system with new hires and would also allow police to question suspects about their immigration status. Needless to say, that would cut into the profits of companies that employ large numbers of illegal aliens, and they've responded with an open letter (link):

A group of 270 farmers and other businessmen mostly representing Georgia’s agricultural and landscaping industries is warning lawmakers about the impact their immigration enforcement legislation could have on the state’s economy.

In a letter delivered to the lawmakers Monday, the group raised concerns that proposals to give police greater power to question suspected illegal immigrants and to require business to verify the immigration status of new employees could harm the state’s tourism and convention industry and make it more costly for them to do business.

Scores of vegetable and fruit farmers, landscapers and agricultural industry representatives signed the letter. Among them are Zippy Duvall, president of the Georgia Farm Bureau; Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council; and Mary Kay Woodworth, executive director of the Georgia Urban Ag Council.

“We must also weigh the unintended potential cost of losing major conventions, tourism, and international business opportunities,” the letter says. “We urge you to consider the message we send to the foreign investors and workers that are vital to our success on the global stage.”

To translate that into what's actually going on, they want to profit from cheap (to them), pliable illegal labor, while passing on the true costs of that cheap labor to residents of Georgia and the U.S. as a whole.

Stephen Colbert shills for growers, supports bad policy in Congressional appearance (+rightwinger fail) - 09/24/10

Stephen Colbert testified before Congress earlier today and shilled for Big Agriculture and promoted bad, anti-American and anti-Mexican policy. And, the wider issue is also yet another example of failure by the rightwing commentariat, tea parties, and similar groups.

1. Coverage of Colbert's remarks is here and here.

2. Colbert is working with the United Farmworkers of America to promote their anti-American, pro-abuse TakeOurJobs effort. I've already written three posts about that effort, the latest was on Wednesday at that link. The two previous are here and here.

3. From his remarks:

This brief experience [of working on an upstate New York farm for a day] gave me some small understanding of why so few Americans are clamoring to begin an exciting career as seasonal migrant field worker. So what’s the answer? I’m a free market guy. Normally I would leave this to the invisible hand of the market, but the invisible hand of the market has already moved over 84,000 acres of production and over 22,000 farm jobs over to Mexico and shut down over a million acres of U.S. farm land due to lack of available labor because apparently even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans.

...Maybe we could give more visas to the immigrants, who - let’s face it - will probably be doing these jobs anyway. And this improved legal status might allow legal immigrants recourse if they’re abused. And it justs stands to reason to me if your coworker can’t be exploited, then you’re less likely to be exploited yourself. And that itself might improve pay and working conditions on these farms and eventually Americans may consider taking these jobs again.

a. A small number of growers with even more questionable loyalty to the U.S. than usual have indeed moved offshore.

b. The solution to that is to reduce labor costs in socially-acceptable ways; Colbert's solution is the opposite. Labor costs can be reduced through mechanization and the like; Colbert isn't promoting that. Instead, what he's promoting would initially *raise* labor costs (legalization). However, what would happen is that growers would collude with politicians to continue allowing illegal immigration in order to reduce labor costs to their current levels. And, some or many of those newly-legalized laborers would leave the farms for other lines of working, competing with, for instance, American construction workers (unless they were held in a form of indentured servitude). Colbert doesn't realize that growers and the political power they have are a major sticking point to solving the situation. See the immigration wage floor page for a related discussion.

c. In the first paragraph, Colbert's comments seem to suggest that only Mexicans and those from Central America are genetically predisposed to doing farm work. However, that conflicts with the second paragraph in which he says Americans might take those jobs. Why isn't Colbert working to help Americans do those jobs right now? The way to do that is to enforce our immigration laws and reduce the numbers of illegal aliens doing farm work. Colbert himself is admitting that the presence of illegal labor has reduced wages and lowered safety standards. His response is to reward the very people - growers, the politicians they influence, and groups like the UFW - who are responsible for the current situation instead of letting them know who's the boss.

d. The pro-American solution is to support citizen or at least legal labor working for acceptable wages in safe conditions. The bottom line is that Colbert is not supporting that. He's supporting something that would simply lead to a repeat of the current situation.

4. This issue is yet another example of failure by the rightwing commentariat, tea parties, and similar groups. I tried to make Colbert look bad before his appearance, and I got very little help with it; see the links in #2 above. Among other things, I started an online petition which got all of three (3) signatures: I also posted here: Note the might-as-well-be-helping-Colbert comments. Colbert's appearance is very establishment-friendly pro-grower propaganda, similar to the crops rotting in the fields propaganda efforts stretching back decades. Those groups showed themselves incapable of striking back against such propaganda. And, most of Colbert's fans appear unable to recognize just whose side Colbert is on.


5. I added the "who are responsible for the current situation" above; hopefully that was clear before.

6. Another place I posted about this before the event was That's the same as the Freerepublic post.

7. The failure by many opponents of illegal immigration who are commenting on this issue continues. See if you can find anyone in this long list who is attempting to show how Colbert is wrong. To compound the problem and as an illustration of how they aren't really serious about blocking amnesty, they're also unwilling to link to this post. Instead, they're engaging in wild conspiracy theories (such as that Colbert's appearance was designed to distract from the contemporaneous DOJ/New Black Panthers hearings) or only discussing the meta of Colbert's appearance.

Mike Thomas of Orlando Sentinel supports exploitation of farm workers to keep prices low (UFW's anti-American takeourjobs) - 07/14/10

Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel offers "If illegal immigrants go, produce prices would skyrocket" (link), a breezy attempt to put a happy face on the United Farmworkers of America's anti-

Juliana Barbassa of AP promotes UFW's anti-American "joke" (yes, Americans do field work) - 06/25/10

Juliana Barbassa of the Associated Press offers "Immigrant farm workers' challenge: Take our jobs" (link) about a new satirical campaign from the United Farmworkers of America. The UFW's campaign is anti-American; if you aren't familiar with this story see the last link. This post only deals with Barbassa's treatment.

She says:

According to the Labor Department, three out of four farm workers were born abroad, and more than half are illegal immigrants.

Apparently Jullianna Barbassa can't do math: that means that one out of four farm workers were born in the U.S., and somewhere between one quarter and one half of them are citizens or legal workers. So, plenty of Americans do in fact do farm work despite the fact that the UFW - and their promoters like Barbassa - would have you think otherwise. Why didn't she point out to them how the very statistics they provide undercut their already-weak argument?

Then, she gets cute:

UFW's anti-American satire: citizens should take illegal aliens' farmworker jobs (Stephen Colbert) - 06/23/10

The United Farmworkers of America are playing a cute, anti-American game (link):

Take Our Jobs - please.

That’s the message from the United Farm Workers union, which is turning the tables on Congress after years of inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.

Through the campaign, United Farm Workers plans to push members of Congress to make a plea to constituents across the country: Put illegal immigrants out of work by working in the fields and packinghouses.

...The campaign “spotlights the immigrant labor issue and underscores the need for reforms without which the domestic agricultural industry could be crippled,” according to a news release from the United Farm Workers.

In their rush to be as anti-American as possible, they've forgotten that vast parts of America are engaged in various forms of farming, with hundreds of thousands of Americans owning or working on farms. They've forgotten about the Okies and all the other non-Mexicans who've worked farms in California and other states. Apparently they think that illegal aliens from Mexico are genetically predisposed to doing farm work. Or, maybe they think that only illegal aliens from Mexico will put up with low safety standards, long hours, and low pay; in that case one wonders why they'd support that situation.

The pro-American alternative is in this open letter to the Center for American Progress that I sent over a year ago. Of course, that would require immigration enforcement first in order to remove the presence of those who UFW founder Cesar Chavez thought of as scabs. And, I'm sure the UFW will support that.

Note that they'll appear on the Stephen Colbert show on July 8; posting comments with a link to this post in their forums might be a good warm-up so his audience knows which side he's on.

Before donating to Human Rights Watch, ask them about child labor on U.S. farms - 06/02/10

When it comes to immigration matters, far-left organizations love to complain about various downsides of a situation and at the same time support policies that make the situation worse. An example is offered by "Fields of Peril: Child Labor in US Agriculture", a recent report from Human Rights Watch [1]. If you're considering sending them money, please read the following first.

Bush to ease H-2A agricultural "guest" worker program; pulls plans from DOL site - 12/11/08

From this:

[Pending Bush administration rules would make] controversial changes to the so-called H-2A guest-worker program [that] could cut wages and speed worker recruitment. They also would relax requirements for providing foreign workers with housing and transportation.

A Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday night that the final rules would be made public Thursday and published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, which means they'd take effect two days before Barack Obama is sworn in as president Jan. 20.

...American farmers, though, consider the 50-year-old program slow and cumbersome, and it provides only a fraction of the U.S. farm work force. California, for example, uses only about 500 H-2A workers annually, while it has about 300,000 migrant farm workers.

The Labor Department announced in February that it would revise the program. The department subsequently received some 11,000 public comments, many duplicative. On Monday night, the final revisions, totaling 166 pages plus explanatory material totaling 393 pages, were posted quietly on the Labor Department's Web site.

The Labor Department dropped some initial proposals that had drawn fire, including one that would allow employers to provide housing vouchers instead of housing. However, many other changes survived.

...By Wednesday, the new rules had been pulled from the Labor Department's Web site. It couldn't be determined Wednesday why the material had disappeared...

See the link for the details. One of those quoted against changes is [[Bruce Goldstein]] from the [[Farmworker Justice Fund]]. One in support is [[Frank Gasperini]] of the [[National Council of Agricultural Employers]]. A release from an opponent is at:

Western Growers promoted Napolitano as DHS secretary - 12/11/08

Back on November 20, 2008, Western Growers issued this press release:
Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama today commending him on his election victory and encouraging him to choose Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to serve in his administration as Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.

...Indeed, over the years, Western Growers, whose members primarily operate in Arizona and California, has worked with the Governor on myriad immigration related policy issues including the Arizona employer sanctions law, port-of-entry improvements enhancing the flow of legal workers who commute daily from Mexico to our members' fields here in the U.S., and streamlining of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.

Moreover, Gov. Napolitano brings significant law enforcement experience from her stint as Arizona's first female attorney general, experience that will serve your administration and this country very well in these precarious times. Finally, Gov. Napolitano possesses a moderate temperament that makes her an effective leader while fostering bipartisanship...

Is Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) a liar? (fruit, vegetable prices would double!) - 09/11/07

I'm pretty sure that Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) is a liar, but we won't know for sure until the "worst" happens:
Consumers could see the price of fruits and vegetables double if the nation does not address a looming farm labor shortage in the wake of tightening immigration enforcement, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said [].

Peterson, D-Minn., told producers attending the Kansas State Fair this weekend that the agriculture committee will focus on the immigration issue as it strives to do its part to make sure there is adequate labor. He said some crops will not be harvested this year unless something is done...
If the price of lettuce shot up, fewer people would buy lettuce. It's not like it's an essential part of our diet. Other, less serf-labor-intensive crops would take its place. And, foreign producers would see an opportunity and start shipping their product to the U.S. Likewise for all the other types of fruits and vegetables that would be affected.

Other than normal inflation, I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for those prices to double, and I suggest that all those who would vote for him remember that he's willing to lie to support corrupt businesses.

11/10/09 UPDATE: I should have linked to this academic study showing how little fruit/vegetable prices would rise without illegal immigration.

White House listening to pork producers, La Raza, Mexico-linked NALEO, NRA... just not you - 06/21/07

The White House offers a PDF entitled "What They're Saying: Border Security And Immigration Reform Agreement" and subtitled 'Business And Agriculture Groups Say "It Is Critical That The Process Moves Forward"' (PDF) [1]. It's just a collection of quotes from press releases from those few groups that support the Bush/Senate massive illegal immigration amnesty, and it contains no accompaning text other than the titles.

As simply a collection of quotes, it's not that shocking. However, it's interesting that these are the special interest groups that the White House chooses to use to bolster their bill, rather than acknowledging the other 99.99% of Americans. And, at least two of the groups are certainly interesting. Let's lead with those two:

* National Association Of Latino Elected And Appointed Officials (has a link to the Mexican government)
* National Council Of La Raza President And CEO Janet Murguia (funds extremists)
* The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce
* National Restaurant Association
* Business Roundtable
* National Association Of Manufacturers
* National Federation Of Independent Business
* Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
* American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman
* Associated Builders And Contractors Chairman David Meyer
* National Milk Producers Federation President And CEO Jerry Kozak
* National Pork Producers Council President Jill Appell
* American Subcontractors Association President Stephen Rohrbach
* Agriculture Coalition For Immigration Reform
* American Health Care Association President And CEO Bruce Yarwood
* Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers
* Georgia Farm Bureau
* Tyson Foods, Inc.
* Western Growers President And CEO Tom Nassif
* Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano
* California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
* National League Of Cities President And Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson
* Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
* MANA President And CEO Alma Morales Riojas
* U.S. Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Board Of Directors Chairman David Lizarraga
* Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
* Esperanza USA President Rev. Luis Cortes

[1] The PDF is described here: It was posted to RedState by Robert Bluey, so it's probably for real. However, I've cached it locally to avoid linking to that site.

John Quinones/ABC News: brazen illegal immigration-supporting hack - 11/24/06

John Quinones of ABC Nightly News offers "Pear Crop Rots as Field Hands Kept from Crossing Border", a brazen pro-cheap labor slab of propaganda that reports on what growers say without offering even the slightest bit of contradictory information. It is so biased it could have been - and might have been - written by the growers themselves. It even includes a grower being emotional:

If the migrants don't show up for the next harvest, Ivicevich said he'll have to destroy entire orchards that were planted more than a century ago. ..."That makes them 120 years old," he said, in tears. "So, I mean, how could I take that tree out?"

What's worse is that the grower's statements seem to be to a good extent related to factors other than the lack of illegal and/or cheap labor. See Pearanoia - Latest Scam From The Cheap Labor Lobby, which links to this SacBee article that - unlike virtually all other articles discussing this topic - at least tried to fact-check grower statements.

If John Quinones wants to do some real reporting, perhaps he can start by looking into the forces that pushed and approved his "report".

[JOB] US-AZ-YUMA: Pick lettuce. $50 an hour. - 04/16/06

** Job offered **

Job description: Picking lettuce (link)

Rate: $50.00 per hour (must work for one year)

Contact: John McCain, Supervisor of Lettuce Operations, U.S. Senate (link)

Bush is lying to you about "guest" workers - 02/18/06

Speaking in Tampa yesterday, president Bush offered a fairly standard recitation of his immigration talking points (link), albeit a bit more incoherent than usual.

Let's just look at this one lie-rich paragraph:

How Much Is that Tomato in the Window? - 02/09/05

The next time someone suggests that we need illegal aliens to pick our produce or lettuce would go to five dollars a head, please refer them to this 1996 study by a Professor of Economics and Agricultural Economics at Iowa State University:

How Much Is that Tomato in the Window?
Retail Produce Prices Without Illegal Farmworkers

"In Florida Groves, Cheap Labor Means Machines" - 03/25/04

Some Florida orange growers are getting smart and using machines rather than foreign serf labor. From the NYT:

IMMOKALEE, Fla. - Chugging down a row of trees, the pair of canopy shakers in Paul Meador's orange grove here seem like a cross between a bulldozer and a hairbrush, their hungry steel bristles working through the tree crowns as if untangling colossal heads of hair.

In under 15 minutes, the machines shake loose 36,000 pounds of oranges from 100 trees, catch the fruit and drop it into a large storage car. "This would have taken four pickers all day long," Mr. Meador said...

But as globalization creeps into the groves, it is threatening to displace the workers. Facing increased competition from Brazil and a glut of oranges on world markets, alarmed growers here have been turning to labor-saving technology as their best hope for survival...

"The rest of the world hand-picks everything, but their wage rates are a fraction of ours," said Galen Brown, who led the mechanical harvesting program at the Florida Department of Citrus until his retirement last year. Lee Simpson, a raisin grape grower in California's San Joaquin Valley, is more blunt. "The cheap labor," he said, "isn't cheap enough..."

Investment in technology generally happened when the immigrant spigot was shut. After the bracero program ended and some farm wages began to rise, scientists at the University of California at Davis began work on both a machine to harvest tomatoes mechanically and a tomato better suited to mechanical harvesting...

In line with the last paragraph, consider this quote from "The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers":

...California Farmer reported in 1963 that if the flow of braceros stopped, tomato growers and canners "agree the State will never [again be able to plant] the 100,000 to 175,000 acres planted when there was a guaranteed supplemental labor force in the form of the braceros..."

Reality, however, never confirmed these dire predictions. In 1960 some 45,000 farm workers (mostly braceros) had harvested 2.2 million tons of processing tomatoes. By 1999, it took only 5,000 workers to operate machinery that harvested some 12 million tons. Thanks to these efficiency gains from mechanization, the real price of processing tomatoes declined 54 percent while per capita consumption rose 23 percent...

California Farmer was lying in 1963, and the same groups are lying today.

"The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers" - 01/12/04

The highly recommended article "The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers" from Foreign Affairs magazine (80 Foreign Affairs No. 6, November/December 2001) is required reading for anyone concerned about the Bush/Fox Amnesty. It was written in response to the amnesty Bush had proposed shortly before 9/11, however it's just as timely as if it was written last week. The authors are Philip L. Martin (UC Davis) and Michael S. Teitelbaum (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation).

Unfortunately, the full text is not available online. You can buy a copy here, or do as I did: go to your local library.

Here are some excerpts:

The only problem with this "win-win" scenario is that it will not work. Bush's proposal [the 2001 proposal --LW] ignores the fact that virtually no low-wage "temporary worker" program in a high-wage liberal democracy has ever turned out to be genuinely temporary. On the contrary, most initially small (and often "emergency") temporary worker programs have grown much larger, and lasted far longer, than originally promised.

...guest worker programs are virtual recipes for mutual dependence between employers and the migrants who work for them. Employers naturally grow to depend on the supply of low-wage and compliant labor, relaxing their domestic recruitment efforts and adjusting their production methods to take advantage of the cheap labor. History has shown that in agriculture (where many Mexican guest workers would be employed), a pool of cheap workers gives farm owners strong incentives to expand the planting of labor-intensive crops rather than invest in mechanized labor-saving equipment and the crops suitable for it...

...political leaders have often belatedly discovered that admitting temporary low-wage workers unnaturally sustains industries with low productivity and wages, such as garment manufacturing, labor-intensive agriculture, and domestic services. In consequence, the economy's overall productivity and growth suffer...

Proponents of a new Mexico-U.S. often portray it as a legal and humane alternative to what has become a huge problem - the unauthorized mass migration of Mexicans to the United States. Such advocates seem blind, however, to the unequivocal lessons of history. Far from mitigating illegal immigration, the two countries' last major temporary worker program actually initiated and accelerated its flow. During the so-called bracero ("strong-armed one") program from 1942 to 1964, the number of unauthorized Mexicans slipping across the border actually expanded in parallel with the number of authorized temporary workers; the illegal flows then continued to accelerate after the program's termination... Today, scholars largely agree that the 22 years of bracero employment created the conditions for the subsequent boom of unauthorized Mexican migration...

...California Farmer reported in 1963 that if the flow of braceros stopped, tomato growers and canners "agree the State will never [again be able to plant] the 100,000 to 175,000 acres planted when there was a guaranteed supplemental labor force in the form of the braceros..."

Reality, however, never confirmed these dire predictions. In 1960 some 45,000 farm workers (mostly braceros) had harvested 2.2 million tons of processing tomatoes. By 1999, it took only 5,000 workers to operate machinery that harvested some 12 million tons. Thanks to these efficiency gains from mechanization, the real price of processing tomatoes declined 54 percent while per capita consumption rose 23 percent...