March 2, 2007

YOU MEAN TOM TANCREDO ISN'T PICKING FRUIT?:

Colorado's immigration policy backfires: The state's punitive measures have left its agricultural and construction sectors short of workers (LA Times, March 2, 2007)

IN THE 2004 SATIRICAL film "A Day Without a Mexican," California wakes up to discover that its Latinos have mysteriously vanished, and a society deeply reliant on migrant labor starts to crumble. Life is imitating art in Colorado. After passing what might be the nation's toughest anti-immigrant laws, the state is having its beleaguered day with fewer immigrants.

With no one left to pick them, crops are rotting in the fields, and the construction industry and other businesses that rely on low-skilled labor are experiencing a worker shortage. The situation is so bad for the state's growers that officials plan to send prison inmates out to harvest crops. How very 19th century.

Immigrants are fleeing Colorado because of harsh laws passed during a special session of the Legislature last summer that require state identification for government services and allow police to check suspects' immigration status. The ID laws have raised the ire even of many native-born people, who complain about hassles for those trying to get a driver's license.

If chasing away immigrants has caused problems in Colorado, imagine the economic chaos it would bring to California, where immigrants make up about a third of the workforce and the agriculture industry dwarfs Colorado's. The Rocky Mountain blues are also demonstrating that, contrary to nativist rhetoric, there really are jobs that Americans won't do. In Pueblo, Colo., desperate farmers are offering up to $9.60 an hour for pickers -- well in excess of the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour and more than they have paid migrants in the past -- but there are few takers.


There's a name for people who prefer a lower standard of living to brown fellow citizens.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2007 10:57 AM
Comments

"There's a name for people who prefer a lower standard of living to brown fellow citizens."

The point is that they are NOT CITIZENS.

Posted by: tsol at March 2, 2007 11:35 AM

Exactly. Which is why W is going to make them citizens over nativist objections, as Reagan did last time.

Posted by: oj at March 2, 2007 12:00 PM

So farmers have difficulty finding workers willing to work short term jobs for only $9.60 an hour - what a surprise! Construction is likewise highly seasonal. These are arguments for a guest worker program, NOT for generalized citizenship.

Posted by: jd watson at March 2, 2007 12:14 PM

It all comes back to welfare. Every complaint I've heard boils down to "They're taking handouts that belong to me!". All the talk about citizenship is just window dressing. Any group of people prefers an active choice to join, as apposed to those who were just born here. It would be nice to see a conformation process made universal for the church of America. How about that? Get rid of the birth loophole for being here. Anybody else feel weird about being lectured about citizenship by people who haven't earned it?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at March 2, 2007 12:48 PM

It all comes back to welfare. Every complaint I've heard boils down to "They're taking handouts that belong to me!". All the talk about citizenship is just window dressing. Any group of people prefers an active choice to join, as apposed to those who were just born here. It would be nice to see a conformation process made universal for the church of America. How about that? Get rid of the birth loophole for being here. Anybody else feel weird about being lectured about citizenship by people who haven't earned it?

Posted by: at March 2, 2007 12:50 PM

There are plenty of workable, market-driven solutions to this situation short of open borders and/or amnesty. The most obvious is a biolmetrically controlled guest-worker program.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 2, 2007 12:50 PM

The only reason to make them be "guests" instead of Americans is racism.

Posted by: oj at March 2, 2007 2:58 PM

I wonder if there are other factors involved? When I was a young woman I tried to get a job typically done by migrants, but I had it explained to me that if I valued my health I'd be well advised to keep walking. I wasn't afraid to do the job, but I was afraid of the self-appointed gatekeepers to that job. Do you suppose that sort of intimidation has gone away? (I hope so, but I have my doubts.)

Posted by: tnw at March 2, 2007 6:59 PM

NO, tnw, that intimidation is very much alive and thriving. You are the first to have ever mentioned it. Most everyone in border states know all about it.

Posted by: TEW at March 3, 2007 2:19 AM

This is pretty simple - $9.60 is not as much as the construction trade is paying. And the overtime is probably less, too.

Posted by: ratbert at March 3, 2007 10:10 AM

Exactly. Which is why W is going to make them citizens over nativist objections, as Reagan did last time.

Fine -- then Colorado's move helps to force the issue.

I don't know that conservatives who support immigration reform ought to celebrate the current unofficial economy -- the one that encourages businesses and others to ignore the worker protections and benefits we insist on in the official economy but deny to illegals. Isn't that a sort of racism?

To put it in the terms you suggested -- isn't keeping our standard of living high by dumping work on brown people who aren't citizens and therefore don't really enjoy any our our labor protection a form of racism/slavery itself?

Posted by: kevin whited at March 3, 2007 1:12 PM

Dumping? They're begging to be allowed to do it. What job would you go through what they do for?

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2007 2:41 PM
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