The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2011, file photo, one of the few remaining crews of workers harvest and package cantaloupes near Firebaugh, Calif. With Congress considering a new immigration reform proposal that includes a speedier process to legal status for farmworkers, experts say, the best indicator of how such reform would play out is to look at the fate of the generation of farmworkers who were legalized over two decades ago. (AP Photo/ Gosia Wozniacka, File)

New York Times article urges GOP to block farmworkers’ wages hikes

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Republican legislators’ inaction on immigration may increase wages for Hispanic farmworkers in California, a New York Times article warned March 29.

“In recent years, farm owners have grown increasingly fearful of labor shortages [and] last year, the diminished supply of workers led average farm wages in the region to increase by roughly $1 an hour,” read the article, which described the agriculture sector’s threats to cut contributions until GOP legislators agree to raise the inflow of low-skill migrant workers.

“Getting higher wages! Heaven forbid,” responded Steve Camarota, the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

The Times’ recognition that extra immigrants will impact wages for Hispanic-Americans shows that “the interests of workers is exactly contrary to what the advocacy groups [for higher immigration] are pushing,” he added.

However, farmworkers’ salaries are too unstable to say if their wages are trending up, Camarota added. Their current wages are still level with 1980’s wages, largely because the past and current inflow of illegal immigrants has provided a surplus of workers, he said.

The push for more foreign workers — who will reduce any marketplace pressure for higher wages — is being led by industry executives.

These executives include farm-owners and labor companies that supply thousands of contracted Americans farmworkers, as well as many recent immigrants and illegal immigrants, to farms during the harvest seasons.

However, the mostly Hispanic farmworkers aren’t joining the executives’ effort to drive down their wages, admitted the New York Times’ reporter, Jennifer Medina.

“The employers are more frustrated than the actual immigrants” about the GOP’s refusal to bring in hundreds of thousands of new workers, complained Joe Del Bosque, who runs a farm near Fresno growing almonds, cantaloupes, almonds and asparagus.

“I thought it would have been much more contentious for them, but they are not so demanding,” he said.

The labor shortage “is not a revolution for them — it’s more for us,” he complained.

The Times’ reporter, however, didn’t quote any farmworkers who welcome a shortage of workers. “I spoke to a couple of workers… [but] I didn’t ask that specific question,” Jennifer Medina told The Daily Caller.

In fact, Medina only quoted executives. “In dozens of interviews, farmers and owners of related businesses said that even the current system of tacitly using illegal labor was failing to sustain them,” Medina wrote.