National Editor Tom Karst Who will hear the growers' cries for immigration reform?
Some media pundits have called farm labor shortages fake or contrived.
It is true, that despite a high level of concern about agricultural labor, it seems not much fruit is rotting in the fields because of worker shortages this fall.
A September report from the state of Washington showed that the numbers of workers in the state were up with the expected record apple crop. The report said the state's total agricultural
employment increased 10.1% over the period of September 2011 through September 2012.
The increase was driven by a 22.8% increase in apple harvesters, the report said.
The report did reveal a shortage of workers of 8.8%, based on responses from agricultural employers to the question whether they failed to complete some work because of a shortage of labor, and a question about how many more workers they could have used.
Wages were up the most in the Yakima region, or the south central part of the state. Wages in September were close to $11 per hour, or $15 to $25 per bin. Compared with a year ago, wages in Yakima were up 10%, according to the report.
Looking to the national election, immigration reform has not been a key issue in the race for the presidency. President Obama did say he is confident that he can deliver immigration reform if he is elected to a second four-year term.
But this opinion piece in the Chicago Sun Times says that Romney is the "best bet" for Hispanics.
Why? From the author, Steve Huntley:
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, after engaging in harsh immigration-control rhetoric during the GOP primary, has pledged to Hispanics that he will “work with Republicans and Democrats to permanently fix our immigration system.” Obama has no record of reaching across the aisle in Congress, while Romney does have a history of working with a Democratic-controlled legislature as governor of Massachusetts. Who would history suggest has a better chance of achieving bipartisan immigration reform?
Still, jobs is the top issue for most Hispanics, just as it is for most Americans. The unemployment rate for Latinos is around 10 percent, 2 percentage points higher than for the overall population. As Romney notes, 2 million more Hispanics live in poverty than when Obama took office.
Polls show Hispanics hugely favoring Obama. But Romney has a record in business for being a turn-around expert who, as National Review writer Kevin Williamson noted, has never disappointed anyone who hired him. He proposes a five-point economic turn-around plan. Obama is promising only more of the same that has left Latinos in dire economic straits — and little hope for immigration reform.