This high percentage of foreign-born workers is nothing new, though. Throughout the history of the United States, people from other countries have been brought over to work in our fields. Many came against their will while others came on work trade programs. For example, white laborers were brought over from Europe as indentured servants in the 1600s, and Africans worked in the fields after being forced onto slave ships from the 1600s to the 1800s.
Two decades ago, the Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) to reduce illegal entry into the United States by imposing sanctions on employers who knowingly hire people who lack permission to work in our country. In addition to a general legalization program, IRCA created programs specific to just the agricultural industry that were intended to compensate for the act’s impact on the farm labor supply and encourage development of a U.S. workforce. These programs have so far not operated in the manner that was intended. Instead, substantial numbers of unauthorized aliens have continued to join legal farm workers in performing seasonal agricultural services. A little more than one-half of the temporary agricultural workforce is not authorized to hold U.S. jobs, which causes problems for both the employers and the workers. Crop growers say that their worker presence lacks a large percentage of native-born farm workers.
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Grower advocates such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Food and Drug Administration Worker Regulations Division (NFDA) argue that farmers should not want to employ unauthorized workers because doing so puts them at risk of incurring penalties such as fines or license suspensions as well as potential loss in production and sales if their operation is shutdown. Farm worker advocates say that crop growers and farm owners prefer unauthorized workers because the workers are in a weak position and therefore will take lesser wages and harder jobs that U.S. workers generally do not want. If the supply of unauthorized workers were reduced, it is claimed that farmers could adjust to a smaller workforce by introducing labor-efficient technologies and management practices, and by raising wages, which, in turn, would entice more U.S. workers to accept farm jobs (Gonzalez, 2015). Growers and farm owners respond that further mechanization would be difficult for some crops, and that much higher wages would make the U.S. industry uncompetitive in world markets without expanding the legal farm workforce. These remain untested arguments because perishable crop growers have rarely, if ever, operated without unauthorized foreign workers.
Overall, there are alternatives to employing migrant workers and breaking regulations, but growers and farm owners just want an easy way out. It is widely known that Democrats and Republicans have different views on the topic of immigration, and accordingly, migrant farm labor is not much different. To begin with, Democrats support farm workers and immigrants coming in from other countries both legally and illegally. Democrats believe anyone should be allowed into or country as the immigrants are looking for a better life and Democrats feel it is the U.S. government’s responsibility to help them. To support this, Democrats often lead fundraisers and organizations to help those coming into our country, including giving the migrants incentives such as money, food, housing, and/or a job, all working towards the main goal of obtaining citizenship and voting rights for the migrants.
In return, it is stated that the migrants will vote for the Democrat party in the next election after the party lobbied for the migrants to have rights. Too, Democrats are against the building of President Trump’s border wall which is said to be built for the purpose of keeping immigrants out. One of their main arguments is that people are currently dying a suffering at the border, which proves they need help and to not be shut out from the better world. Overall, Democrats are in favor of helping the migrant workers come into the U.S. and even provide them with assistance. Democrats are not concerned with the history or status of the workers.
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