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Essential need for immigrant labor

I wonder how long it will be before we can have a discussion of immigration and labor issues without it being closed off with the phrases of “border security” and “open border and cheap labor?”

Clearly, we have people in this state whose livelihood and security is threatened by border failures. Their pleas should not go unnoticed. One of the freedoms we work so hard for in other countries should have primacy here — freedom to be secure in place, person and family. It is an obligation of the federal government to secure our border.

As for the “open border” label, it is a political epithet intended to end discussion before it begins. Come on, who among the majority of reasonable people are advocating for open borders? And cheap labor is a myth; especially so to those who make payrolls.

Perhaps a more logical argument is that immigration and labor discussions should be delayed until the unemployment rate is decreased. But that is tempered by study after study showing that immigrants create jobs in this country — for the most part they are a complement. It is a fact that we have industries, including agriculture, that need workers with certain skills and appreciation for the work being offered. In this recession, with high unemployment, agriculture has scrambled to fill its jobs. Sure, technology will help, but this labor is needed into the foreseeable future and it can only be sourced from immigrant pools.

Also, the United States has great need for students with math, science, engineering and technical skills. We graduate a high percentage of foreign students and send them back to their countries.

Please show me the data that indicates this country can grow its economy without new seasonal and permanent legal immigrant workers.

And it does fit together. If we are serious about border security, wouldn’t we want to use all of the tools in our kit? Wouldn’t we want our visas to work smoothly (they don’t) to facilitate movement of legal labor back and forth across the border? But visa reform, as a complement to border security, does not seem to make it into reasonable debate.

The Arizona Accord is a statement of principles, the same as the Utah Compact. It does not propose specific action, but creates sideboards of respect for law, respect for individual and respect for principles of equality around immigration discussions. You may not accept any issues of immigration reform, but if you read the Arizona Accord it is hard to disagree with the principles embodied.

It seems like the right thing to do. The words we use reflect the attitudes we hold and convey. The Arizona Accord uses words that set high standards for practical and just solutions to meaningful immigration reform. You can see for yourself at www.azaccord.com. I encourage you to read these words, at least before you espouse a counter opinion.

And then hear these words:  my industry and others need legal access to labor pools that are seasonal, short- and long-term. These pools will not be sourced from this country. This is an essential fact.  You can tell me to pay more, to use convicts, to hire more students and you can tell me technology will solve my problems. In short, without respect or knowledge for my industry you can presume to tell me my business. Fine — we can debate all of this, but it won’t change the essential fact of a need for immigrant labor in Arizona and the rest of the country.

— Kevin Rogers is president of the Arizona Farm Bureau.


  1. Your Aiding and Abetting Illegal Aliens has given them the ability to infiltrate many other occupations formerly held by citizens!
    Only 3% of Illegal Aliens stay in Agricultural jobs when they jump the border!

  2. This country has always aided and abetted the need for labor. Now, it is called illegal, but needed all the same. It is for this reason that the U.S. was built so rapidly. We brought in “labor” from all countries to help build this powerful nation. There are industries which need labor, skilled and unskilled labor, as the “baby boom” generation and our “aging” population retires in mass. There money comes from “paper investments” and the retired do not want to offer their “labor” where it is needed. We need labor to compete with China, India and other countries and we just do not have a large segment of “unskilled” labor and we say we are not interested in keeping our Dream students who have the determination to complete their education. This is short term thinking with no vision of the future! This is not a legal vs illegal issue, nor is it black and white issue and should not be looked at in the shadows of our current outdated immigration laws. It must be looked at as a “need” necessary for the United States to sustain itself and compete with the “labor” of the world! Come up with a new vision of the future!

  3. The cost of the crimes committed by this “workforce,” far outweigh any perceived benefit as far as I’m concerned.

  4. @olga Aros: First of all, any foreign labor that helped build the early foundations of the USA was brought here LEGALLY based on the laws of the times.

    The next statement I take issue with is that we don’t have a large segment of “unskilled” labor. Can you provide any data to back that up? According to the BLS, we have approximately 23 million unemployed in this country. Do you mean to say that ALL of these people are “skilled” or “highly educated”? I don’t think so. In fact I suspect the majority fit in the category of “unskilled”. I say we have more than enough “skilled” and “unskilled” US citizens who need work to fill ANY industry’s needs.

    This country needs to get rid of the illegals and reduce legal immigration to help put CITIZENS back to work and off the public dole. When progress toward these goals is made, our economy will once again flourish, regardless of what the “open borders” crowd says!

  5. It’s the rich against the poor. If they paid everyone a living wage they wouldn’t be so rich. They could be rich but theywouldn’t be as rich as they are. Every year the gap between the rich and the rest of us widens – every year we the people have less and less power and say in our lives. They want it all – and we just don’t really figure in except to be exploited. Yes, the United States was built on slave labor but isn’t there maybe a better way we could all live – the rich can have their money but we need some too. There needs to be some balance – and we want our say in what goes on – we want our representatives to represent us – no taxation without true representation! And meanwhile, we are losing our country and our heritage – why do they get to say what they will and won’t do? This is our country too.

  6. How many more people will be rear-ended by an illegal with no license? How many
    more jobs will be taken by illegals for a lower wage? How many citizens have
    been forced to wait in an emergency room because of illegal aliens?
    How many more illegals will crowd our prisons and jails? Our schools are forced
    to be English instructors for those who come here and do not speak a word
    of English. How many more young uneducated men will come here looking for
    work and end up on welfare and if they stay on taxpayers medicare?
    Illegal aliens cost this state millions every year. Most accept wages without
    paying Fed. tax and accept wages that are lower than those that would be
    paid for our own citizens trying to make a living for their families here in AZ.

  7. Stand for citizens of our state. Stand for law and order. Illegals must not be
    allowed to come into or stay in our state

  8. Actually, agribusiness already has access to legal guest workers through the federal H-2A program. The catch is that the employers have to pay them decent wages and offer decent working conditions.

    If agribusinessmen can’t accept that, couldn’t they at least pay for the public services used by illegal aliens instead of letting taxpayers pick up those costs? The free enterprise they espouse certainly isn’t free for the rest of us.

  9. Perhaps Mr. Rogers will see things differently once he, one of his family members, or a close friend gets killed or seriously disfigured by an drunken illegal alien driver who has no driver’s license and insurance.

    Stephen Landess
    Austin, Texas

  10. “Essential need for immigrant labor”

    That statement is such an insult to US citizenship.
    What is the point of US citizenship if everybody but citizens can get jobs and prosper in this country.
    These people will stop at nothing to defraud/devalue US citizenship.

  11. Kevin Rogers is a typical corporate welfare queen. He wants the opportunity to make money regardless of the costs he imposes on other US citizens.

    Rogers’ livelihood and position of economic privilege really may depend on having a cheap, subservient workforce that largely impose higher medical and auto insurance expenses on the rest of it. The simple fact is the US has had a sound economy during periods of low immigration-and other highly developed economies like Japan do so today.

    If he can’t deal with a lower immigration US, his lands will be sold-and someone more capable[-and law abiding- may make better use of them.

    I have worked in agriculture(I grew up on a farm). I’ve also worked in the high tech sector. In the tech sector-the issuance of foreign worker visas has clearly driven Americans into unemployment and out of the tech sector.

    Mr. Rogers needs to do some basic fact checking.

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