Are YOU Ready to Pick Tomatoes?

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As the illegal immigration issue continues to heat up, my economist side keeps on lingering in my thoughts. Many illegal immigrant workers are employed by farms in states close the Mexican border. These workers are usually underpaid, their salaries are somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 per day.  Competition from Latin American crop producers is also an issue; tariffs do not seem to stop foreign products from making it into the US market.

Although I am not in favor of illegal immigration, our economy needs the human resources provided by illegal immigrants. A massive deportation is not the answer to the current economical downturn. As the unemployment keeps on rising, more and more attention is being paid to illegal workers. We did not pay much attention to illegal immigrants during the “dot-com” era, but since jobs are now scarce, it is only natural to put our eyes on illegal workers.

Now the question is: are we Americans willing to take their jobs for the same pay?  There may be a small group that may be willing to do so, but I do not think this small group will fulfill the demand for farm workers. Higher salaries would be required in order to draw Americans to the farming fields and hence crop prices would soar. If prices soar, competition from outside the US would have an advantage over our produce and the demand for US grown products would fall. Under this scenario we would lose jobs to foreign competition.

It is true that not all immigrants are hard workers but, farm workers have demonstrated over and over how valuable they are to our economy. We cannot punish these people for the wrongdoings of others. We need to put an immigrant farm worker program in place in order to keep our crop prices low and in order to compete with foreign grown produce.

I am sure many will not agree with me but I am personally not willing to pay more for produce. Are you?

About Alberto Galdamez
Alberto Galdamez, a United States citizen formerly from El Salvador, shares his success story from being an immigrant to reaching the American dream. His purpose is to encourage immigrants to integrate to the American culture.

4 Responses to Are YOU Ready to Pick Tomatoes?

  1. trishabishop says:

    Alberto,
    You are right no American will want to pay more for produce or any other product that is put together or picked by an American. As American citizens, we have become accustomed to instant product/service at low cost.–That is why McDonalds and Walmart are major industries within the United States. Some individuals do not understand if there are workers (even not a citizen of this country) completing labor that benefits extra money in their pocket by working long hours, doing tedious work tasks, and strenuous labor. Personally, I can say I do not know an American citizen that is willing to accept the position. So, I admire your stance on the issue.

    • Thanks for the comment Trisha. I think the government needs to do something about illegal immigration but hardworking people such as farm workers should be given an opportunity. We need them whether we recognize it or not.

  2. Thanks, Alberto, for this post. It conjures up so many vital concepts–food, illegal employment, day laborers in ag–that I just don’t even know where to start.

    My husband and I disagree about the answer to your question. [I have not talked to him about this specific post, but am speaking in general.] I am willing to pay more for food which is organic, non-modified and fairly produced–to be specific, I speak of the food that is locally produced and sold at local farmers’ markets. He is not. He thinks we should eat the same food that people who can’t afford to pay more. Our compromise is to try to raise as much food as we can ourselves.

    We’re acquainted with some of the agricultural day laborers where we live. Their life and working conditions are horrendous. It is as if they are living in a different universe from me. That is not right.

    Your blog is raising so many powerful points. Thanks for your commitment to truth.

    • Billie,
      I feel the same way as you, so many things to write about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your blog about farm workers inspired me to write about them.
      Although I completely agree with you on willing to pay extra for Organically grown produce, it is not the case with the general public. At our home we try to stick to organic, non-GMO, free range, etc type of products but it is difficult during this economical times. Working in the farms is a difficult task, while growing up I spent many years working as a farmer with a low pay.
      I concur with you about the horrendous working conditions farm workers are exposed to, I wish the government took care of our hardworking people.

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