Who harvests America’s food?

2011-02-01

in Economics, Law, Politics

Anyone who is concerned with food security in the United States should be concerned about immigration policy as well:

The government estimates that more than 80% of America’s crop workers are Hispanic (mostly Mexican), and more than half are illegal aliens. But Rob Williams, the director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project (which represents farmworkers in court), considers those numbers grossly misleading because they rely on self-reporting. He estimates that more than 90% of farmworkers are sin papeles (without papers)[.]

Much of the abuse suffered by these workers apparently relates directly to immigration law, since the constant threat of deportation strips workers of any ability to demand better work conditions.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh February 2, 2011 at 5:18 am

Whether the percentage of farm workers is 50% as set out by the government or 90% as suggested by Rob Williams, the director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, it is a very high figure. These workers are making a substantial contribution to the food which reaches our table.

I hope there are ways in which their efforts are being acknowledged. Of particular importance would be
1. protection of their working conditions and assurances that the y are being paid for their labour
2. allowance of the families to be together and
3.the children to go to school.

The problem with the paperless status is that their basic rights can be much more easily violated.

R.K. February 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Stephen Colbert has been pretty active in raising awareness about immigration and agriculture.

. November 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

It’s quiet most days in the El Paso sector, as the Border Patrol dubs this 268-mile slice of the border. Back in 1993, agents arrested 285,781 people trying to enter America illegally. In those days, the holding cells in the processing centre, explains Scott Hayes, a Border Patrol agent, were full to bursting. In 2010, however, agents picked up only 12,251 illegal immigrants in the area—a 96% decline. Much the same is true of the border as a whole: last year’s tally, of 447,731 arrests, is barely a quarter that of the peak year, 2000, when 1,643,679 people were intercepted. This year’s figure will be under 350,000; a fifth of the peak.

The drop in arrests reflects not laxer enforcement, but stronger. There are over 17,000 Border Patrol agents on the border with Mexico, a fivefold increase over 1993. They patrol in cars and all-terrain vehicles, on bicycles and horses, in boats, planes and helicopters. When there are no agents around, cameras, reconnaissance drones and three different types of sensors—seismic, magnetic and infra-red—keep tabs on things. A third of the border is fenced, and most of the rest is in areas so remote or rugged as to make fences pointless or impractical. Some parts of the fence are 17 feet high, with metal plates extending ten feet below ground to prevent tunnelling.

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