September 5, 2007

Labor Day Highlights Immigrant Dilemma

This Labor Day, different corners of America were confronted with fallout from the debate over illegal immigration and the jobs immigrants do that support local economies.

While some people call for greater restrictions on hiring, others say immigrants are a vital part of their communities.

Bay Area row crop farmers are worried about losing their workers to a new policy that forces employers to fire employees if the government notifies them that their social security numbers don’t match existing records.

Like other industries, farmers depend on immigrant labor to do the hard work they say no one else will do, reports the San Mateo County Times.

Many workers use fraudulent Social Security numbers to collect wages, leaving farmers with a tough choice: fire their workers, some of whom have been with them for decades and live with their families, or risk federal prosecution for harboring illegal immigrants.

The new policy was going to take effect next week, but a U.S. district court judge has issued a stay pending a further hearing on October 1.

The small community of Marshalltown, Iowa, became ground zero for the immigration debate following two recent raids of a meatpacking plant that resulted in the deportation of dozens of undocumented workers.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, some locals of the formerly all-white town had trouble with newly arrived Hispanic immigrants in their midst, but had to concede that without them, the town’s economy would suffer — the meatpacking plant is its largest employer.

Immigrants and native-born citizens alike joined together in Virginia to rally against a Prince William County resolution, taken by the local Board of Supervisors, to deny county services to undocumented immigrants.

Protesters also boycotted all local stores that did not outwardly support all immigrants by displaying a special sign.

“No human being should be labeled as illegal,” one protester told the Potomac News.

The anti-immigration side of the debate has been ramping up the rhetoric with a new ad campaign directed at both citizens and presidential candidates.

The ad depicts a young couple unable to pay their bills because all the jobs are going to foreign workers, reports the Washington Times.

The campaign, created by the Coalition for the Future American Worker, is urging presidential candidates to crack down on foreign workers and support policies that would favor U.S. citizens over foreigners for jobs.

Sources:

“Immigrant rally held”
Potomac News, September 3, 2007

“Farmers fear labor pinch”
Bay Area News Group, September 4, 2007

“Immigration fight turns to U.S. workers”
Washington Times, September 3, 2007

“Illegal immigration reshapes culture of small-town Iowa”
Lawrence Journal-World, September 2, 2007

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