The cherries produced by the orchards belonging to third-generation cherry farmer Robert McMullin provide upwards of 90 percent of Southern California’s sour cherries. These particular kinds of sour cherries are difficult to come by and are very sought after by members of the culinary industry in Southern California. However, much of this summer’s harvest went unpicked simply because McMullin did not have enough human labor to pick them. The lack of resources cost the cherry farmer $300,000 and many law firms specializing in immigration issues are being consulted for assistance in the matter.
This situation is indicative of what farmers across the country are experiencing as immigration law reform has come to a virtual standstill. McMullin utilizes a government program that allows him to use labor resources from Mexico for his cherry farm but he is unhappy with the program because of its high cost and myriad restrictions. There was a state guest-worker program ready for implementation that would have helped farmers who are in need of labor but it was put on hold in favor of the possibility of a change in immigration law.
Several states across the country have delayed the passing of immigration laws with the possibility of federal government intervention. Their hope is partly based on past immigration law reform such as in 2011 when Arizona’s SB1070 led to the enactment of more than 160 new laws throughout the Union. The issue, however, had faded into the political background by the following year.
There has been a growing trend of the provision of benefits to illegal immigrants by states, particularly California. So far in 2013, 43 states have passed 146 laws on immigration, some of which allow those in the country illegally to get a driver’s license and even to practice law. States like Georgia, on the other hand, are going in the other direction by tightening their allowances for illegal immigrants including restrictions on public housing and state sponsored grants and other financial assistance.
Other states like Utah and Virginia, while not quite as zealous as Georgia, are nevertheless making sweeping changes to current immigration law that would disallow illegal immigrants from obtaining or taking advantage of many of the benefits they used to enjoy. The trend seems to be that states are waiting on intervention from the federal level in order to relieve the pressure put on the state legislatures to implement the necessary revisions. More than 24 states have passed resolutions to this effect but the results may continue to be slow coming.
For Robert McMullin and the rest of the farmers in California and across the United States, immigration reform cannot come soon enough. The situation has made it so that the bottom line is a lower selection of produce at a higher cost. If you have questions about immigration reform or would like to speak with an attorney about your own needs in this regard, please contact Lyttle Law Firm PLLC, an Austin based firm that specializes in immigration and family law. They can be reached at (512) 215-5225.