KENNEWICK, Wash.- The
executive director of the Washington Growers League says he's certain
immigration reform will happen this year.
But if Congress only
passes laws to kick out illegal immigrants and doesn't include guest worker
programs, Mike Gempler says it would devastate growers' ability to attract a workforce.
"If you do
the enforcement on its own first, it will throw things out of whack, and will
damage our economy tremendously, and damage our industry tremendously," Gempler
The Department of Labor
estimates 50 to 70 percent of seasonal workers are undocumented.
Gempler, who returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. this week, says
he's optimistic the senate will pass a comprehensive bill that will include a
guest worker program and other laws that will allow immigrants to stay and work
while they earn for legal status.
Gempler is attending the Washington Association of wine Grape Growers' annual convention at the three Rivers Convention Center.