The Immigration officials are very busy these days, rounding up the undocumented workers and keeping them in detention centers to be processed. This is making many of the American public very happy because “those people” are being hounded out of the country.
But, like all things, there is another side to this story.
First of all, I believe that all workers should be documented who desire to work in this country. But, having said that, it is in the best interests of several segments of the economy to use individuals who are unencumbered with paperwork that would require higher wages and more paperwork on the parts of the employer.
The agriculture industry is one of those areas.
Growing and packing and shipping food to keep up with American’s growing appetite for all things fresh and healthy is a major part of the American economy. While many still think of farming as a robust family small business, in truth, agriculture is often a major big business enterprise. And often big business finds big ways to cut costs.
Employing farm industry workers who are undocumented is one such way. Foodies often do not think about exactly how those fruits and vegetables arrived at their chopping blocks.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that 16% of all agriculture workers are undocumented and that the number of field workers (those who pick or gather the fruits and vegetables) is estimated at 70% being undocumented.
As chicken processing plants discovered to their chagrin when their states clamped down on undocumented workers, without those individuals, very little work was being done.
In the agricultural fields, there is a limited amount of time to pick these items before they are past the point of being viable to be shipped. Without picking, they will simply rot in the fields.
Consider that for a moment. In the land of plenty, plenty will rot away. What doesn’t get picked, doesn’t get shipped and doesn’t make it to your local grocery story. What amount does make it will be priced so high that most will forgo purchasing these fruits and vegetables.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that over one thousand farms in New York state alone will either fold altogether or will be so hurt that it will take years to recover where they were last year, if they recover at all.
It is understandable why undocumented individuals have been used to work where others will not. But honestly, does it make sense to destroy industry to hold fast to a campaign promise which was not thoroughly thought out?
Most of us learned at an early age that when you throw a pebble in the water, it makes ripples that have an effect on the area around it.
Our government officials and politicians apparently never spent much time skipping rocks.
Maybe when their plates are empty, they might consider why understanding ripples is so important.