The migrant farm worker issue exists for 2 reasons: Prejudice and Fear
(although the 2nd is a subset of the 1st).
There has always been a prejudice against Latinos- especially in the
Southwestern part of the US. We just don't want "their kind" coming into
our lilly white, god fearing country and subverting our values and
marrying our daughters. Hell, they even don't speak English!
The fear is a hold-over from the days when Americans would work in
factories, mills and on farms. The (fill in the blank with Poles, Irish,
Chinese...) immigrants competed for these jobs years ago. The truth now
is that no Americans are willing to work in low paying, menial jobs. The
Mexicans are- the minimum wage per hour here is a 10 hour day's pay in
Mexico. That would be like paying $40 per hour for factory jobs here.
Also, someone I met at a Sustainability Conference said he employed
mostly Mexicans in his carpet factory. He told me how he ran ads for
jobs offering above minimum wage to start and noone applied. He said the
Mexicans will work hard, do a good job and ask to work overtime.
Now, let's suppose that the average pay for a 50 to 60 hour work week
here was $25 and the Mexican factories and farms were paying $200 for 40
hours and you could make $350 per hour for 60 hors (with overtime pay).
If the cost of livings, etc. were reversed for the 2 countries, the
factory pay would be equivalent to $1,600 to $2,800.
This would mean that all those Americans who couldn't feed and house
their families would cross the border, take whatever work they could get
and send their families as much as they could.
To think that there's anything else driving the migrant farm labor
"problem is ridiculous. There's a shortage of workers in our factories
and on our farms because not many of us are willing to be laborers or
farm workers and the Mexicans are willing to work at any kind of job
here to feed their families.
I like Dale's idea of legitimizing migrant workers:
"Wouldn't an easy solution to the illegal migrant labor
problem be to legalize it? The government could make it easier to get
temporary work visas."
We can't stop the influx of hungry, desperate people wanting jobs we
don't. So what's our problem with coming up with some way to satisfy the
workers and the business and farm owners? I refer you to reason #1
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