Farmers Say Deporting Illegals Would Devastate Harvest
ELTOPIA, Wash. - Three brothers from Michoacan, Mexico start work each day at dawn. They spend the day bent over, cutting asparagus. They work ten hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the harvest.
"It's work. I do my job with pride. It's an honest job," said one of the brothers Alfredo.
Alfredo has spent almost twenty years in the fields. He said he comes from nothing.
Many migrant workers have paid coyotes up to $3,000 to help them cross the border for this harvest season. Once they arrive in the area, they pay hundreds for a social security number to work under.
"If I can't come back to the United States, I don't know what would happen to my family," said Alfredo.
If a majority of the estimated 100,000 migrant workers in the Tri-Cities do not return next harvest, the asparagus commissioner said it would be devastating.
"If we do not have access to workers, it's a $100 million hit just for asparagus," said Asparagus Commissioner Alan Schreiber.
Attorney Tom Roach has dealt with immigration law for twenty years. At a town hall meeting on Monday, he said our borders need to be protected, but we also need to face the extreme impact we'd all face without illegal workers.
"Ninety-four percent of illegals are here working so who's going to do all that work," asked Tom Roach.
The tightening borders are already impacting the fields.
"We have, already this year, had asparagus fields plowed under because we have not been able to get enough workers," said Schreiber.
Alfredo said in 20 years he has yet to see an American picking asparagus. He said he knows he's needed by both his family in Mexico and the people of the Tri-Cities. Right now, the harvest relies on workers like him to put food on our tables.