Colorado's Need for Migrant Workers

February 2008
It is well known that the Western Slope of Colorado employs a lot of migrant workers, particularly during planting and harvesting seasons, and that some of them are undocumented, meaning present in the United States without proper papers. Reporter Crystal Costa examines the issue and asks the question, could the Western Slope survive without migrant workers?
Immigration Attorney John Reardon says without migrants our economy would suffer, "We absolutely depend on our agricultural needs, we cannot survive without a good H1B visa program, if we don't get those people back across the border, you can kiss our economy good-bye, we cannot survive." ...We cannot persecute the Mexicans and South Americans who are filling our void, not one of them comes up here to go on welfare, another urban myth, they come up here for jobs, many of them work 2 or 3 jobs." Attorney Reardon Said.
Others say that if employers raised wages, Americans would take those jobs. Another problem for employers is that the feds have not come up with a good program for assisting them in determining whether their employees are here legally or not.
This leaves farmers and ranchers on the Western Slope left to deal with current legislation making them solely responsible for who they hire, without restructuring any background checking system at the federal level.
The article concludes by saying we're not likely to get such a program until a new President is elected. Reuters yesterday reported on American farmers who are moving their farms to Mexico to avoid legal problems with migrant workers in the U.S.
Americans are farming some 50,000 acres of land in Mexico and employing 11,000 people, in spite of high crime, suspicion of outsiders and doubts back home about Mexican food safety standards. The Bush administration's clampdown on undocumented workers and tighter border security means the flow of Mexican workers to California is drying up, Cox said. ....As well as tapping into an abundant source of cheap labor in Mexico, U.S. growers can avoid expensive environmental regulations demanded by states like California. "We are basically being regulated out of business," said farmer Steve Scaroni, who moved 20 percent of his operations to Mexico's central state of Guanajuato in 2006.
I guess that's one way to solve the problem of undocumented migrant workers. But is it worth the toll on our economy?