Farmers Getting Concerned About A National Clampdown on Illegal Workers
Talks about a new immigration bill that could severely impact the workforce of local farms in Santa Maria are causing owners to be seriously concerned. The proposed measure would oblige all American businesses to have the names of their employees pass through e-verify.
This verification program of the government checks to ensure that a particular person is legally qualified to work in the United States. Many farmers say that the measure would obliterate their workforce and cause irreparable damage to the entire industry.
It is not secret that the agricultural industry is inundated with undocumented workers. In fact, it has been estimated that around 80% of field works in the U.S. are illegally working here.
According to Victor Tognazzini, a longtime farmer in Santa Maria, “We’re seeing very sophisticated identification. They come with holograms.”
He says that the E-Verify bill would leave him without a farmhand to harvest the produce because most U.S. citizens will not take the jobs his farm offers. “Put in an order for 80 people and we’d get 3. They would work for a matter of a few hours and then wouldn’t work again,” said Tognazzini.
He wants the government to implement some type of a guest worker program.
“We could have people who would come up and return,” Tognazzini said.
While legislators are doing the best they can in dealing with those who are already in the U.S., some say that there should be no exceptions.
According to Ruth Yubeta, the law is the law and that is the way it is. “That’s how I’ve been brought up, to mind the law whether you like it or not,” she said.