Migrant Workers at Root of Healthy US Agriculture Economy

Article ID: 602198

Released: 25-Apr-2013 10:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Cornell University

Expert Pitch

Mary Jo Dudley, director of the Cornell Farmworker Program, is an expert on issues affecting immigrant labor who conducts research on immigrant workers, farmworkers, migration from Latin America and immigrant communities in the United States. An advisor to the White House on issues of concern to farmworkers, Dudley comments on renewed efforts in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration law reform.

Dudley says:

“Farmworkers and farm owners alike eagerly await an immigration reform that will provide a reasonable path to legalization for the current farm labor force.

“Nationwide, over half of the farm labor force –1 million farmworkers – are believed to be undocumented. For many farmworkers, the absence of legal status has a seriously detrimental impact on their lives. In our research with farmworkers, many say they are afraid to leave their homes for fear of being detained and deported. Farm employers also express concern that their workforce may not be properly documented. In this context, the labor force is unstable and both the daily operations of the farm and longer-term planning become extremely difficult.

“Public discussions regarding immigrant workers often uncover the opinion that these jobs should be filled by local workers. However, employers struggled financially under the high turnover rate of local workers before the immigrant workforce arrived to Upstate New York. These workers make meaningful contributions to the viability of farms without undermining access to employment for local residents. In fact, by helping to keep farms in operation, they are enabling the growth of the dairy processing industry and the creation of local jobs in plants and business management.

“The continued success of agriculture absolutely requires the enactment of immigration legislation that will provide an expedited path to legalization for the current skilled agricultural workforce and their families.”

Nota: Mary Jo Dudley está disponible para ser entrevistado en español.

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