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US farming leaders speak out against E-Verify fears

June 6, 2011

Top representatives of the national agricultural industry have spoken out about the potential disaster they are facing, if a new policy- that will heavily crack down on illegal workers - becomes law. Farming leaders said they have tremendous fear that a requirement to run employees through E-Verify - the program that confirms the immigration status of each worker - could wreak havoc on the industry, due to the face that 80 percent of field workers are illegal immigrants.
Perhaps the loudest voice to speak out against the policy - which surprisingly is just about the only part of immigration reform that congress has been able to agree on - is that of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsak. He said that until US citizens were willing to take on the back-breaking low-paid work, then undocumented aliens will always be needed.

"Few citizens express interest, in large part because this is hard, tough work," he said last week. "Our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers to do the right thing."

Arturo S. Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers union, said that work was incredibly tough and skilled, requiring produce pickers to be exact and quick. He said illegal workers were often told that they were taking American jobs - but they have their own proof that that's not the case.

Last year Rodriguez started the "Take Our Jobs" campaign, to try to draw American workers to take to the fields. He said that while around 86,000 inquiries were made, only 11 workers took jobs.