The Department of Homeland Security estimates it will soon need to rent 28,000 new jail beds to house undocumented immigrants, if Congress will give up the money. Big bucks, the taxpayers are spending - we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars.
Simultaneously, South Texas farmers are losing money hand over fist, reports KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, because there aren't enough immigrant pickers to harvest their crops. An onion grower quoted could only hire half his usual labor force, and so suffered signficant financial loss from leaving crops rotting in the fields.
What's wrong with this picture? DHS wants to rent 28,000 new jail beds for whom? These farmers' prospective employees. Reports KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi:
According to the Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey, 53 percent of the hired crop labor force lacked authorization to work in the U.S. in 2001-02. Worker advocates and grower associations agree the actual figure is probably closer to 80 percent.Without immigrant pickers, KRIS reports, growers say many US farms may close up shop and re-open in Mexico where they can get enough labor to harvest their crops. "A Mexican worker is going to pick these crops one way or the other, and the only question is whether they pick them here or across the border in Mexico," said a senior fellow from the conservative Manhattan Institute.
Three-quarters of the hired farm work force in the U.S. was born in Mexico. And more than 40 percent of crop workers were migrants, meaning they had traveled at least 75 miles in the previous year to get a farm job, the survey showed.
That is the logical outcome of increased enforcement, if it works. But it's too bad. And unnecessary. Demographics already had it in for American farming, as urbanization, globalization and technological advance combined to destroy probably most family farms in the last decades. But what grave harm justifies immigration policies that seem almost designed to kill off the industry entirely?
MORE on the subject from Open Veins.