Avocado farmers in Santa Barbara County are currently struggling to find workers. So to all of the white people who whine about Latinos, here's your chance to get those jobs you said we were stealing from "hardworking" Americans.— Carlos (@bIazingxmexican) June 17, 2018
As President Donald Trump imposed cruel measures to help curb undocumented immigration, his draconian policies, resulting in an ongoing crackdown against immigrants, has hit hardest on the demographic that helped him get elected in the first place: the U.S. farmers.
While Trump has made immigrating to the U.S. much harder, Californian farmers scramble to find workers as they prepare for peak season.
Rick Shade, a fifth generation Californian avocado farmer, needs 50 harvesters for peak season, he only has half of them and worried most of them are aging. Trump’s policies have made it hard for him to replace his workforce.
"Many of the harvesters I remember from when I was just a teenager - they're still harvesting," he said.
The reason why farmers may be affected the most by recent crackdown at the U.S. border is because almost half of the workers employed by farmers are undocumented immigrants, according to the Department of Labor.
Years of inconsistent immigration laws have caused a depletion of workers and Trump’s new policies are not helping.
Farmers can employ workers through the H-2A guest farm worker visa program, which allows workers to stay in the U.S. for 10 months and leave after the season ends. However, the process is so grueling many farmers get the visas approved, well after they need the workers. In addition to this, farmers also have to provide the workers with housing.
"The H-2A is a difficult process, especially living in this beautiful spot in Southern California," Shade said, citing the state's high land values. "When you bring in an H-2A employee or employees, you have to provide housing that is up to government specifications. If I were to hit the Lotto ... I might be able to purchase an old run down motel and convert it. But that's the order of magnitude we're talking about for labor and it's just not feasible."
Despite Agricultural Technology, which uses robots to replace workers, being a multi-billion dollar industry, there are many crops, like avocado, which can only be hand-picked.
"Every avocado has to be clipped from the tree by hand," Shade explained. "I don't care which diet you're on - Keto, Paleo, whatever - everybody still eats. We need people that are willing to work hard and sweat in agriculture to get the food to the table."
Trump, has long claimed immigrants steal American jobs, however, it may just be they are doing the jobs that most Americans refuse to accept.
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