Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bring On The Immigrants!

Here's another story about how vital immigrants are to American life. Tons of fruit and vegetables are going unpicked this year as immigrants are having more trouble crossing the border and immigrants already here are afraid to leave and therefore moving into more stable, long-term jobs.

There is an alternative to having migrant immigrant workers picking fruit. That is to make the job well-paying enough to attract other workers. But this isn't going to happen either--either way the lack of pickers undermines one of the most unrenowned aspects of the American economy, dirt-cheap food. We don't like paying big money for food (unless it's a class symbol to do so and we shop at Whole Paycheck) and rising food prices is going to lead to a lot of crabby voters.

America's agricultural system and the migrant labor that underlays it has been a problem for a long time. These workers have long been exploited, forgotten about, and thrown away with the rotten fruit after the season. Writers from John Steinbeck to Don Mitchell have shown this. I'm not confident that a guestworker program can really solve this, though the fact that the United Farm Workers is behind one plan makes me feel a little better about its potential.

In any case, this is yet another example of the wrong-headed racist politics of the Republican Party. Not only is anti-immigrant sentiment racist, it is undermining American towns, cities, and the economy. Vote them out. Vote them out now!