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California Farmers Worry That GOP’s Immigration Plans Could “Wipe Out” Agricultural Work Force

by Mahwish Khan on 04/26/2011 at 11:45am

gallegly speakingWe’ve been saying for months that the immigration policies proposed by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), the chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, pose an economic danger to California. Gallegly and his anti-immigrant allies, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — a.k.a. the “Three Amigos — are pushing a mass deportation strategy that they’ve renamed “attrition through enforcement.” The ramifications of their mass deportation policy could have a severe impact on the economy of Gallegly’s home state. Last week, California farmers spoke out:

Farmers are growing increasingly concerned about a federal employment verification program that could have vast implications for local agriculture, Santa Cruz County’s top industry.

Some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for expanding a Department of Homeland Security program known as e-Verify, which allows employers to immediately check, electronically, a worker’s employment status against federal immigration databases.

But many speculate that the program – if implemented without Congress taking up the politically sensitive task of providing a path to citizenship for immigrant workers – would effectively wipe out the county’s, the state’s and the nation’s agricultural work force.

That’s exactly what Gallegly intends to do. It’s no secret that California’s agricultural industry relies on undocumented workers. And California’s agricultural industry is one of the state’s economic crown jewels. These workers help feed the state and the country.

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