In this file:
· Increased Immigration Enforcement Sets Agriculture Industry On Edge
· DHS confirms targeted nationwide immigration operation launched last week
· Farmers need seasonal workers — and an immigration solution
Increased Immigration Enforcement Sets Agriculture Industry On Edge
By Luke Runyon, KUNC (CO)
Feb 14, 2017
After hundreds of arrests of undocumented immigrants by immigration police, the Trump administration’s increased focus on immigration enforcement has some of the country’s largest farm groups worried.
Undocumented immigrants make up a significant portion of the country’s agricultural workforce. A 2016 Pew Research Center study showed undocumented workers are in about 26 percent of the nation’s farm jobs, the highest percentage among all occupations Pew included in the study. A crackdown on immigrant workers could put farms at-risk, and agricultural trade groups are taking precautions.
“I think it’s fair to say that everyone in agriculture is nervous and on edge,” says Jackie Klippenstein, an executive with Dairy Farmers of America, a co-op that counts 14,000 dairy farms in 48 states among its members.
In the last decade, the nation’s dairies have frequently been the subject of immigration audits, where workers have been charged with using false documents and owners find themselves coughing up thousands of dollars in fines. Many dairy farmers already struggle to find enough labor to keep farms up and running, Klippenstein says, and raids make it even harder to fill positions milking cows and tending to the herd.
“Farmers can’t grow, they can’t make long term plans if they don’t have a stable, legal workforce,” Klippenstein says. “And so without a doubt this is the number one issue.”
Dairy Farmers of America says it is stepping up its outreach to members to explain the rights and obligations dairy owners have when under scrutiny by federal authorities, Klippenstein says. The group will also be hosting a workshop with a labor attorney at its annual meeting.
Other farm organizations, like the Western Growers Association, which primarily represents produce growers on the West Coast and in the Southwest, have started distributing literature to farmers and immigrant workers on what to do if the subject of an immigration raid.
Meanwhile, meatpacking companies, another sector of the agricultural economy reliant on immigrant and refugee labor, are mixed on the topic of immigration.
In an opinion column for the Huffington Post, Cargill chairman David MacLennan says...
... The world’s largest meatpacking company, JBS, which has its North American headquarters in Greeley, Colorado, says...
more, including links
DHS confirms targeted nationwide immigration operation launched last week
By Mark Minton, The Garden City Telegram (KS)
Feb 14, 2017
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued a statement late Monday afternoon confirming nationwide reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a concerted national operation last week to arrest undocumented immigrants within U.S. borders.
ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer said 32 people were arrested in Kansas during the operation that began last week. He said there were seven arrests in Garden City, nine in Dodge City, six in Liberal, one in Syracuse, one in Ulysses, one in Plains, one in Great Bend, two in Elkhart and four in Wichita.
Neudauer said ICE is focusing on people who have criminal records, “so we’re trying to get rid of the worst of the worst first,” but also arrests others suspected of immigration violations found in the process, even if they have no criminal record. He added that ICE officials are authorized to conduct arrests at suspects’ place of employment.
Capt. Randy Ralston of the Garden City Police Department said that during the operation local law enforcement accompanied ICE agents on arrests relating to individuals suspected of reentry into the U.S. after previous deportation. He added that ICE also assisted the GCPD with an ongoing violent crime investigation.
“We’re there mostly to ascertain or make sure everything is okay and maintain order in those few cases that we did work with them on,” Ralston said. “We were not involved in any detainers. We were only involved in arresting those that committed a felony offense. These are criminal cases.”
The nationwide operation, which has reportedly targeted criminals and non-criminals alike, led to the arrest of 680 people in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City alone. The statement by Kelly emphasized that those individuals “pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.”
Kelly said, “President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.”
According to the statement, approximately 75 percent of those arrested were “criminal aliens,” convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.
Local rumors of ICE’s presence in southwest Kansas have been circulating on social media since last week...
Farmers need seasonal workers — and an immigration solution
Agricultural labor is not just an issue for farmers. For every job on the farm, there are two to three more supported in transportation, food processing, equipment and supply manufacturing, sales and marketing, and other fields beyond rural farm communities.
By Jim Colbert, Opinion, The Seattle Times
February 14, 2017
AS debate over federal immigration policy and enforcement has taken center-stage in Washington, D.C., it is worth remembering the potential impacts of these decisions on our state’s economy and particularly on the economy of rural Washington.
Agriculture remains a vital and growing sector of our state’s economy. Agriculture and food processing annually is a $51 billion industry, supporting 160,000 jobs and generating $15 billion in exports. Beyond providing safe and healthy food for Washingtonians, agriculture is an industry that provides stability to our economy during times of turmoil and recession and that sustains rural communities that have not benefitted from boom times in other industries. However, these benefits should not be taken for granted.
Many of Washington’s largest and most valuable crops depend on seasonal hand labor to be successfully grown and harvested. Berries, hops, grapes, cherries, pears and our state’s iconic apples all depend on this able and willing workforce. Unfortunately, growers face a struggle to find qualified workers, and this shortage constrains the ability to produce more labor-intensive fresh fruits and vegetables. A 2015 study by the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform found that the lack of available farm labor to meet the demands for fresh produce production costs the U.S. economy $3.3 billion a year.
Farmers follow the law to verify that employees are legally present and authorized to work in the United States. But at the peak of harvest and with workers moving between employers in a matter of days or hours, catching discrepancies can be difficult. As a result, national estimates of the percentage of agricultural workers without valid documents range between 50-75 percent.
The ongoing shortage of available seasonal farm labor and the uncertainty related to the legal status of the existing workforce has prompted many growers to attempt to use a federal temporary guest-worker visa program for agriculture, known as H-2A. Such a decision is not taken lightly, as the program is extremely complex and requires verification that domestic workers are not available. Employers must also cover the cost of transporting the employees, provide housing and pay wages substantially above the prevailing rates for comparable work. That the use of the program in Washington has expanded from 814 jobs filled in 2006 to 13,697 jobs in 2016 despite these disadvantages is further proof of the acute shortage of farm labor.
But the H2-A program needs significant reform...