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Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 20, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Immigrant workers on U.S. farms

Immigrants keep nation competitive

Regarding the article on possible racial implications in hiring of migrant workers, I would like to bring up the concept of first-generation immigrants filling an urgent need. [“Do U.S. farms favor immigrant workers?” Close-up, May 7.]

Right now, the logistics are cheaper for a Chilean farmer to ship to the Northwest than it is for a farmer in California. Ditto Brazilian and Chilean farmers shipping to the East and Gulf coasts versus the cost of shipping from the Midwest.

It is going to get worse. The second Panama Canal will accommodate the giant ships from Asia so they avoid going around the cape. That will bring a whole new competitive group to our agricultural industries. It will place not just our farmers in the Midwest in jeopardy but the support industries of agricultural processors.

In order to stay competitive, farmers need to hire motivated workers who will stay on the job doing the necessary hard labor. This is not a question of Hispanics versus African Americans, but simply the need for motivated first-generation immigrants to keep an industry competitive. The same racial questions were raised about Italians, Poles and Chinese in the last century. These immigrants propelled the American industrial machines to be leaders in the world.

Ian Firth, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Immigration | Topics: immigration, jobs

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