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Mar-27-2008 21:46printcomments

Nursery Industry Responds to Homeland Security No-Match Rule Proposal

Homeland Security strikes out at Oregon agriculture businesses.

Sign from an immigration rally at the Oregon capitol
Sign from an immigration rally at the Oregon capitol
Photo by: Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - Today, the Oregon Association of Nurseries responded sharply to the Department of Homeland Security's revised no-match letter policy, declaring that the proposal unfairly burdens labor-intensive employers with more onerous regulation.

They also say it creates an environment of suspicion in the workplace. The response came shortly after a conference call with 70 individuals representing employer groups from across the United States.

"The policy is bad for employers and their workers," said Jeff Stone, OAN Director of Government Relations.

"And frankly, it's bad for Oregon. With such a large number of foreign-born workers contributing to the economy, the productivity in many sectors would be significantly reduced without them."

Today's conference call was held in response to yesterday's announcement by Homeland Security. It was led by ImmigrationWorksUSA, a federation of pro-immigration business coalitions from across America.

Participants at the local level hail from every sector of the economy that relies on immigrant workers: agriculture, food processing, landscaping, hotels, restaurants and construction.

The policy lays out requirements employers must follow if notified by the Social Security Administration that an employee's name and social security number on file do not match.

The no-match rule has been the subject of ongoing litigation between DHS and a coalition of employers and unions objecting to the rule. These groups are already saying DHS did very little to address flaws in the prior version.

"This move by DHS is less about revision and more about justification for their position," said Stone. "We expected them to do better. Employers believe in enforcement when it's done right."

"Most employers want to abide by the law and they want the government to give the tools to ascertain whether employees are legal or not," said Tamar Jacoby, head of ImmigrationWorksUSA.

"But the social security no-match system is a poor tool, and there is a lot of work to be done before it's ready for prime time."

Stone cited a December, 2007 report from the Office of the Inspector General at Social Security Administration (SSA) that more than 70 percent of the 18 million discrepancies in its database pertain to native-born citizens, not immigrants.

"Unfortunately, the DHS made no substantive repairs to the Final Rule as originally published," he said.

The national coalition was formed due to the lack of a national solution to immigration. As reform continues to languish, individual states are pursuing anti-worker policies that harm businesses and the economy.

"We support congressional action that's responsible economic policy," said Jacoby. "This is about more than immigration. It's a U.S. worker issue."

The Oregon nursery group represents the state's largest sector of agriculture with 1,600 member businesses and more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Nurseries are a key generator of revenue for Oregon, with more than 75 percent of its product exported outside the state. Wages are better than expected, with average industry wages for field workers in the Pacific region at $10.48 per hour, according to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (October, 2007). "The nursery industry depends on a willing, available workforce, and they support Oregon's economy," said Stone. "We're urging Congress to stop this mess and adopt federal reform that allows these valued employees a legal way to work."

Source: Oregon Association of Nurseries

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Samson April 5, 2008 12:20 pm (Pacific time)

Ceaser do you have a source link for that Pew Study? They have so many different databases at their site I have been unable to locate your referenced data, though I recall something similar in a some newspaper article I read, I do not know where or when. Today in my local paper they were writing about the rising unemployment rate, and how bad things were getting, so I assume those jobs that are being held by illegals will be looked at as a source of future citizen employment. The current national unemployment rate is 5.1%, that's actually pretty low for an economy that is expected to be in a recession. Election year politics will have a lot to do with the illegal situation, could be a very active summer coming up.

Ceaser April 3, 2008 11:00 am (Pacific time)

A recent PEW study found that if the agricultural industry tripled their pay rate it would impact the American consumers food budget at less than 3%, but our social costs would go down by at least 15% if the illegals self-deported. The conclusion is real simple, Americans will have higher paying jobs in the agricultural industry and our entire country will experience a higher quality of life and less crime to boot. Otherwise, in less than 50 years we will look like India. P.S. About 15% of the American family's food budget is from hand-picked crops and this is steadily declining.

Ana Solorio-Diaz April 2, 2008 6:26 pm (Pacific time)

about 90% of your produce was picked by if they illigals leave the crop go down. And what have the immgrants do to you? Didnt your ansestors come here as immagrants?

Enforcement now! April 2, 2008 11:50 am (Pacific time)

The illegals and the criminals that have been providing them unlawful assistance will have their appropriate accountibility.

Navymom March 31, 2008 4:57 pm (Pacific time)

No one is saying that legal immigrants can't pick the produce, just the illegal ones can't. It is not much to ask that people who want to work in this country, work legally. That they have work visas, passports, real green cards, etc. Just come here legally! Thats all.

Ana Solorio-Diaz March 31, 2008 3:59 pm (Pacific time)

If your asking your self, Yes im Hispanic. Im Mexican-Amercan. Im not here to say white people are wrong and im right. or here to say that mexicans are angels or crminals. If one mexican is a drunk driver..all mexicans are?..if one white man is a drunk driver..all off them are? thats not the way it works. You see, all my life i have never seen immagrant standing in the corner with a sign..But i do see them workin in the feilds, and nursurys. And you tell me..when was the last time you saw a Mexican man sitting in the corner with a sign? Mexicans come to this country to work and provide for their family, My dad works 7 days a construction and he gives us a great you want to come and tell me mexicans come here to steal?..well think again. I know some mexicans do steal and and do illigal things..but dont you dare say all are the same..I am not a racist i belive everybody are humans no matter what race. But when you say all immagrants are the same..then are you saying all white people are the same? And people go around saying this and that..and then you go to a mexican restaurant what do you see the most. Americans.Who pics your foods, cleans your foods, Us.

James March 31, 2008 11:26 am (Pacific time)

Anonymous would you like to share with us what Mexico's immigration policy is? Nations have laws, if not, then you do not have a nation. Mexico comes down pretty hard on illegals. Their property ownership laws have certainly generated some shocking results for those who have invested and improved properties only to have them taken away without compensation. I guess if one is ignorant of a nations laws and then when they are caught offguard when/if they become enforced, best keep aware of their liability.

Anonymous March 31, 2008 9:14 am (Pacific time)

who is the immigrants?we or you?because,my neighbor came from china,I came from mexico,and you came ENGLAND...........

James March 31, 2008 9:04 am (Pacific time)

Our nations current economic woes are now just the opposite of what attracted illegals to come here. There will be some significant problems developing if the economy actually goes into a prolonged recession that will more than likely cause many illegals to self-deport. We are moving into unknown territory and my hope is cool heads will prevail, but I imagine there will be flare-ups of violent behavior all over this upcoming summer. No jobs mixed with alcohol and resentment makes for a bad combination. Bottom line, jobs go to those here legally, and if the unemployment rate goes up (it's actualy not that high right now, unless you don't have a job!) you better believe some friction will develop starting in the day labor market and elsewhere. Americans come first, as they should. I don't believe the majority of Americans out there are racist, they simply will want to take care of their families.

Vic March 31, 2008 7:59 am (Pacific time)

I agree with Sheldon ...people may have to ask themselves..Is my racism and white pride worth having to pay $6 for a tomato ,or $4 for a small head of lettuce....??

Henry Ruark March 31, 2008 7:31 am (Pacific time)

"Anon" et al: Always exceeding dangerous to characterize whole group from behavior of segment. "Illegals" driven here by causations beyond any possible control by them, in part by policies of U.S. re corporate impacts on Mexico. We need strong controls but massive export of humans not possible, demands both actions and costs far beyond our reach now or in decade. Check out your sources, and if you can document statements lay on on line here; or modify both your view and statements publicly. You are both responsible and accountable for what you publish here, as am I and everyone else. 'Anon" goes only so far... IF you wish specific points, see my several Op Eds by easy access via STAFF and "Written by..."-line.

Anonymous March 30, 2008 11:47 am (Pacific time)

I agree, Immigration works. But only if they are legal. That's the point. Illegals are a burden to the State and Federal Government. Illegals are criminals. They steal every single day. Welfare money, education money, health care money. They steal peoples identity and jobs. They are a burden and they must be deported (or self deportation). You'll see the crime rate will go down, the drunk drivers will disappear from our streets and our neighborhoods will be much safer. The schools turn in to learning institutions with English as the first language. Salem downtown will look like America and not like Mexico.

James March 30, 2008 7:42 am (Pacific time)

Did congress fully fund the border fence? I read where they did not properly fund the REAL ID ACT, so that must be done. Everyone in my family has valid passports, and I suggest everyone out there do the same, because no doubt when the government runs a program things will screw up. They should let private business bid on developing an ID system, and do it now. My guess is that President Bush may go through some type of legal review after he leaves office, but I doubt anything will come of it for I doubt whomever the future president may be, I doubt if they want to establish some type of precedent that would put them in some future jeopardy if and when they may screw up.

Henry Ruark March 29, 2008 4:50 pm (Pacific time)

Corrigan et al: Agree with your rational approach, and hope you will write in more detail. You might find Op Eds done previously of interest; access via STAFF-section "Written by...line. We MUST bring action on this via Congressional wake-up to prevent more violent reactions on way from both angry groups, neo-con and immigrants. I do believe Bush-cabal's avoidance of real issues, leading to open border continuance and then useless fence-wasted billions, is in itself at impeachment level.

Corrigan March 29, 2008 11:39 am (Pacific time)

We simply need to know who is here. Most any ID system will be imperfect, but we have to have a system that keeps illegals out, and appropriate sanctions for those who falsify and game the system. This may cause some hardships as things go online, but we simply have to have an accurate ID system in today's world. Looking for a solution to this mess is far more productive than the opposite.

Henry Ruark March 28, 2008 7:17 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Reagan's remarkable remarks about "government as the problem, not the answer", now resounds here in double-time. Unwieldy, burdensome, fully questionable and legally challengeable regulation such as this certainly seems was NOT what he had in mind. But that's part of the problem he and his Bush-I cabal created, and that's what now demands sure and solid opposition to this one as burdensome and unjustified, if simply on the fact it will snatch up many "legals" right along with those-others, now hard-working and tax-paying right off the top of those checks.

Sheldon March 28, 2008 11:39 am (Pacific time)

I have mixed feelings on this matter. This summer during the different harvest periods may be a real eye-opener! Not only high energy and food prices, but maybe so little fresh food for market processing that food shortages may happen in the richest country on the planet! Hungry people who are not use to being hungry may be a big problem?

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