Unemployed refuse offers for jobs filled by illegal immigration

A jobless man holding up a sign that says "No way, no how, no bailout."

Photo: Jake Rome/Flickr/CC-BY

Illegal immigration and immigration reform are bubbling to the top of the media cauldron. The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona immigration law. Polls show most Americans agree with the law, and Utah wants to pass one just like it. Meanwhile, the United Farm Workers Union is getting a tepid response after offering the labor-intensive, low paying jobs filled by immigrants to unemployed Americans.

American agriculture and illegal immigration

To draw attention to immigration reform, the United Farm Workers Union launched a campaign called “Take Our Jobs.” The union supports the AgJOBS bill currently held up in Congress that grants temporary legal status to immigrants, which would become permanent if they continue to work on farms for a specific period of time. CNN reports that at least half a million applicants are needed to replace the immigrant workforce, so the union has posted an application at takeourjobs.org for Americans who want to work on a farm.

Unemployed shun back-breaking labor

Union president Arturo Rodriguez told CNN that at least 4,000 people have responded to the application. Some are serious responses and others are hate mail. Only a few dozen have followed through. Most applicants quickly lose interest once the reality sinks in that the jobs involve back-breaking labor in triple-digit temperatures and minimum wage, usually without benefits. Some small farms are not required to pay minimum wage and in 15 states farms aren’t required to offer workers’ compensation.

Anti-immigration groups vs. farm labor reality

The Department of Agriculture counts nearly 1 million farm workers in the U.S. According to the Migrant Farm Worker Justice Project, 85 percent of farm workers are immigrants and up to 70 percent are illegal. Yet surveys show a majority of Americans favor a crackdown on illegal immigration. Allheadlinenews.com reports that a Pew Research Center poll found 59 percent of Americans favor the Arizona immigration law. Nearly 20 states are drawing up similar legislation, including Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

Illegal immigration puts food on the table

In support of the AgJOBS bill, the United Farm Workers Union supports migrant farm workers, insisting that they help, not hinder, the U.S economy. Rob Williams, director of the Migrant Farm Worker Justice Project, told CNN that in America it’s pretty clear that the least desirable job to have is being a migrant farm worker. Williams said that if people who oppose immigration got their way, farming in America would have a labor crisis. He said immigrants take the least desirable jobs, but they’re important jobs because everyone has to eat.

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