Ag Today June 26, 2018

Farm groups worry about ‘touch-back’ proposal before Congress

BY JOHN COX jcox@bakersfield.com 19 hrs ago 8

After a hard day of work in local vineyards, Teresa Ramirez offered a one-word commentary on the single-most divisive immigration reform measure being debated by Congress: “lies.”

The 47-year-old Lamont mother of four, her arms full of groceries as she exited a store on Weedpatch Highway, was referring to a proposal to force undocumented farmworkers to return to Mexico for a period of at least 45 consecutive days every year.

“How am I going to return without papers?” the Oaxaca, Mexico native asked. “Promises, promises. I don’t believe it.”

Hers was precisely the reaction California’s farming industry worries about as it works with House Republicans to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Without an adequate labor supply, Central Valley farm wages rise, lowering the competitiveness of one of the world’s most productive agriculture regions.

Congressmen from other states contend that allowing undocumented farmworkers to stay in the country amounts to amnesty. But California farmers argue that the 45-day “touch-back” proposal will cost the state too many workers, and that the measure would also be unfair to longtime undocumented laborers who have no home to return to in any other country.

Read more