Since President Donald Trump has assumed office, he has followed through on his controversial plan to deport as many undocumented immigrants from the country as possible. While he stressed that it would only be criminals who would be deported, the relatively loose definition of what a criminal is in terms of undocumented immigration is causing more deportations and more worry in the immigrant community that many thought would be the case.
However, it is not only the workers and their families who fear an immigration crackdown, according to a recent news report from the Los Angeles Daily News. Farmers are very worried by the immigration raids, because they rely on immigrant workers to harvest their crops. It is not just an issue of pay. As it turns out, Americans have very little interest in picking fruit and vegetables, even when they are being paid more than minimum wage. In one recent study in North Carolina, for example, of the relatively small number of Americans who actually took agricultural harvesting jobs, less than 10 actually finished the growing season while tens of thousands of foreign nationals were able to work the entire growing season. As discussed in the article, farms are picturing all of the crops rotting on the trees and on the ground, as there is not enough labor to pick the harvest.
This is not to say that all workers are already in the country when they get hired to work on these farms. Many companies, including the winery owned by Eric Trump, have historically sponsored what are known as agricultural work visas. These H-2B visas allow workers to come to the country and work during the growing season and then return to their home nations during the rest of the year. The fate of this visa program is not known, as there have been overtures from the White House that they may not be allowed in the near future in favor of American workers.
This is not to say that Americans will not work harvesting crops for any amount of money, but there would obviously be a problem when fruit is being sold for $20 a pound, as some experts estimate might actually happen. This would no doubt lead to the importation of more foreign-grown produce.
Another thing to keep in mind is that regardless of a worker’s status, in Los Angeles and other parts of California, such as Orange County, workers have rights. Some unscrupulous employers will take advantage of these hard-working foreign-born workers, and do so in a way that is not only wrong, but is also a violation of the labor code. They known that many of these workers will not report even serious violations because they are either scared of the government, scared of their employers, or both.
However, if you are a worker who is being mistreated by your employer, you should contact an Orange County employment lawyer as soon as possible. Some types of mistreatment we commonly see involve wage and hour disputes, in which workers are not paid overtime or paid for the actual amount of hours they actual work. Other violations include having workers in a dangerous environment and denied basic rights owed to workers, such as regular breaks.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Immigration raids scare California farmers, not just their workers, April 10, 2017, By Thomas Elias, LA Daily News
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