Immigration News Picks 10/01/12: A Shortage of Immigrant Workers for Upstate NY’s Booming Dairy Industry

New York’s dairy industry needs workers. (Photo: Flickr/essjay)

Last week we reported on how a lack of migrant workers is hobbling agricultural production in the Southwest. In a similar vein, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, writes in the Huffington Post about how New York’s dairy industry is having a difficult time handling the recent boom in yogurt sales because of a lack of workers:

Compare the promise of this new industry’s ability to grow the economy with the reality of an immigration approach that takes away the necessary legal workforce. Dairies are among the most vulnerable to our enforcement-only approach: No program allows them to hire temporary immigrant workers for jobs that otherwise go unfilled.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been doing the job it was hired to do,” says Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms Inc., a 12th-generation family farm in western New York. “By aggressively conducting I-9 audits, they are taking away our experienced and skilled workforce.”

In Politico, David Rogers writes about how at a time when “Border Patrol detentions are down historically” the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border is growing because of a rise in under eighteen migrants coming from Central American countries other than Mexico.

From 2009 through 2011, the average number of UAC [Unaccompanied Alien Children] detainees per year was about 20,500— more than two-thirds from Mexico. Through July—or the first 10 months of fiscal year 2012 ending Sunday—the comparable numbers show a modest increase to 21,842. But the Mexican portion has dropped to about half while the 2012 numbers from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador total almost 8,200, more than double the average for the prior three years.

Caseworkers who have talked to the migrants attribute rising drug and gang violence in Central America as being a significant push factor. The rising numbers have led to $132-million being allocated to the issue of unaccompanied child migrants in a stopgap spending bill signed by the president on Friday.”

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

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Feet in 2 Worlds (Fi2W) is an independent media outlet, journalism training program, and launchpad for emerging immigrant journalists and media makers of color. Our work brings positive and meaningful change to America's newsrooms and has a broader impact on how immigration is reported and the ethnic and racial composition of news organizations.