Short end of the pick
What does increased vigilance along the U.S.-Mexico border have to do with rotting Oregon strawberries?
A lot, say labor contractors in the Willamette Valley who are pleading with state officials to help recruit more workers to harvest the crop.
Traditional seasonal workers from south of the border have not shown up this year, said Daniel Quiñones, the migrant seasonal farmworkers representative from the Oregon Employment Department.
The employment department has an illegal alien representative?
"There's just not as many people," he said. "There's fear about crossing the border and insecurity because of the Minuteman Project."
It sounds like less people breaking the law is a bad thing according to our public servant here.
As of Wednesday, agents had made 844,300 arrests of people illegally entering the country from Mexico, said Mario Villarreal, spokesman for the Border Patrol in Washington, D.C. That figure is slightly above last year's apprehension numbers of 830,460.
Those who rely on Oregon's strawberry crop may understand that but are still angry about the impact.
I'm soooo angry...
Watching workers Wednesday in the middle of a 12-acre strawberry field near Monitor, independent labor contractor Arnulfo Sandoval Perez blasted the U.S. government's inability to craft a temporary-worker program.
He estimates that some strawberry farmers are losing $10,000 per day.
Why do we put "estimates" about money in our newspaper from people whose job involves breaking the law? Put me on record as "estimating" that they are losing no money, how about that.
But aren't these folks already taking jobs away from American citizens?
"That's a lie," Sandoval said in a sharp tone. "I assure you, most people wouldn't last two days out here."
Ohhhh, a sharp tone.
Although he expressed empathy for farmers, Jim Ludwick, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said the situation does not justify more immigration to the state.
Instead of clamoring for the cheap labor, farmers should be lobbying Oregon legislators to remove the restrictions on children working the fields, Ludwick said.
"A number of years ago, those strawberries would have been picked by Oregon school children," he said.
Now there's a solution that doesn't involve breaking any laws.
"There's no sense of having to work for your school clothes," Quiñones said. "But, more than anything, it's hard work."
We sure don't want to teach kids about hard work and the value of a dollar these days.