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ICE Raid On Plant Nursery In Ohio

06/19/2018

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) recently carried out a raid on a large flower and garden center in Sandusky, OH. The current policy of strict enforcement of immigration regulations is justified in law and is politically acceptable to the Administration and supporters.

The problem of illegal immigration and the arrest-and-deport approach is analogous to trying to maintain the level in a leaky bucket by adding more water. All the time there is a demand for labor and a ready supply of willing workers, simple economics will perpetuate a system of illegal employment.

It is high time that the Government recognizes the realities including a disinclination by U.S. citizens with deficient skills and no prospects in cities to undertake agricultural employment. It is absolutely necessary for the proposed temporary H visas to be issued to foreign agricultural workers under the control of the Department of Agriculture.

Although many large egg producers have stabilized their labor by employing citizens and legal alien workers, there are many operations not in compliance and are vulnerable to raids and disruption. Employers must transition to the E-Verify system. This will preclude the problem of fraudulent documents in circulation.

The use of employment agents who round up illegal workers is strongly condemned and should cease. These coyotes function at the interface between a willing workforce and potential employers under pressure to fill labor complements.

In reviewing farm operations and in conversation with owners and managers, it is evident that there is a disinclination for native-born citizens to demonstrate required reliability, diligence and responsibility. Drug use and alcohol abuse are responsible for absences from work, failure to follow biosecurity procedures and operational procedures. The problem is especially evident when a farming operation is in proximity to a large industrial enterprise that can afford to pay higher wages for workers who are prepared to be productive, abstain from substance abuse and conform to work routines.

Building border walls, stricter enforcement of immigration laws and restricting social benefits for unemployed citizens are not practical solutions to a long-standing problem. U.S. agriculture, and specifically, the poultry industry require workers available and willing from our southern neighbor. The Administration and Congress should face reality and provide requisite visas to maintain the efficiency of operations. This implies that acceptable wage rates will be offered including appropriate housing, health and other benefits. In the short term, all producers should transition to legal compliance and conform to the DHS rules incorporating E-Verify.