But what coastal growers really want to see, like their counterparts elsewhere, is comprehensive immigration reform and a streamlined guest worker program.
New Customs office
Growers and laborers face a potential distraction, though, in a plan to build a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office in Santa Maria.
That has drawn opposition from some farmworkers. More than 1,000 residents came to a March 27 city council meeting on the plan. Santa Maria had been in a rezoning process for the ICE site, and the council approved a permit. The enforcement agency seeks to relocate there from temporary facilities at the Lompoc prison.
Opponents claim the relocation would result in more deportations. Supporters, in turn, say the space would house offices, not a detention center.
“There’s significant concern from the worker base about this (ICE) office,” said Brent Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing at Santa Maria-based Gold Coast Packing Inc. “They are concerned it could potentially hurt the labor force if this office opens locally.”