The debate over immigration reform has been raging since before Donald Trump took the White House, but the strict, new policies are exacerbating a worker shortage for Texas farmers, some of whom are thinking about getting out of the business, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“We’re actually thinking of putting our farm up for sale this winter. We’re tired of this,” Frank Arnosky of Arnosky Family Farms tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
He says farmers who use undocumented workers are scared to death about finding labor to pick the crops. Those who use a legal workforce, using a seasonal farm worker visa program, are running into hassles and delays at every corner that make it impossible to do it the right way.
“Documented or undocumented, farms are having a hard time. Calling it a ‘crisis’ is not an overstatement,” he explains.
On the campaign trail President Trump has vowed to deport “bad hombres” from the United States. Since January, agents with Homeland Security have given the boot to more than 105,000 immigrants, 42 percent of whom had never committed any crime.
It’s the rhetoric, many feel, that’s driving workers underground. But the numbers show that, even under President Barack Obama, there was a push to expel migrants.
Data from HSI show that, last year, a total of 121,170 people were deported during the same period. A similar percentage had no criminal records.
Arnosky, who has been active in farming groups, says about 70-perent of agriculture workers in the US are Hispanic. Of that, half are undocumented. He often hears the question of why doesn’t he just hire Americans to do the job. He’s tried. Ads in newspapers for $20-hour jobs go unanswered.
“Americans don’t want these jobs. That’s the bottom line.”