Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The fall out of bad immigration...
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The fall out of bad immigration laws

Anne Stanton - February 14th, 2011
The fall-out of bad immigration laws: Farmers and migrants both suffer heartache
By Anne Stanton
Eighteen years ago, the nation’s immigration law made it fairly easy for a farmer to hire migrant workers and simple enough for the workers to live in the United States legally. But current regulations amount to a “monstrous buzz saw” with a disastrous fall-out for everyone, said Old Mission Peninsula farmer Josh Wunsch.
Good farmers are stable people who require a strong team and the involvement of skilled knowledgeable people. Yet there are 8 million workers without acceptable documents, Wunsch said, quoting a policy statement from the American Farm Bureau.
He passionately argues for change.
The only legally viable way to hire a farm worker from outside the U.S. is through the H-2A program. In order to qualify, a farmer must “test the labor market” in accordance with federal regulations, which mandates, among a litany of other requirements, that the farmer register an advertisement with the state workforce agency, as well as publish ads in specific media with a specific dimension for a certain number of days, and to offer the federally determined prevailing wage for the specific job, said Traverse City attorney Joanna Kloet, who specializes in immigration issues.

RED TAPE HURDLES
There are numerous timelines and response deadlines to track. If, and only if, a qualified American doesn’t apply for the job, can the farmer hire a foreign worker.
But there’s an expensive caveat. Let’s say that a farmer goes through all the regulations and ultimately does hire an immigrant worker. If an American shows up halfway through the work season and says he or she wants the immigrant’s job, the farmer must hire the American and fire the immigrant worker and then pay the airfare back to the immigrant’s home country. This is on top of paying for the flight into this country and 100% of housing costs, Kloet said.
Larger corporations, such as those that run confined animal feeding operations can afford to abide by the regulations, but smaller farmers—such as those in Northwest Michigan—find it extremely difficult and expensive. Wunsch said that trying to abide by the program is like “pouring money into a rat hole.”
“After months and months of lead time, we still don’t get the workers, who, by the way, we have never laid eyes on and who have no experience. The program is so impossible, and we have to spend impossible sums of money to get us to absolutely nowhere. The system has finally become, don’t ask, don’t tell. If a 22-year-old comes to me, shows me his green card, I have to accept it on faith that it’s authentic, and I don’t find out whether or not it is, until the next spring when the Social Security office tells me they have a mismatched number.”

UNDERVALUED DIMENSION
The H-2A program isn’t great for the workers either—they can only work for the specific employer once inside the country and aren’t allowed to follow the picking season from farm to farm. Yet the migrant system has worked for decades, Wunsch said.
“This group that we are so fond of denigrating and seeing as some kind of threat, this group has been very good at moving from spot to spot to spot according to where the work is, that’s why we call them migrant workers. They show up when they’re needed, and vanish to the next gig when the need has ended--a unique and undervalued dimension of that skill set,” Wunsch said.
The country’s insistence on booting out 8 million undocumented workers ignores the fact that 300 million people still need to nourish themselves with 900 million meals a day while maintaining a high standard of living and low prices, Wunsch said.
Every bad law has its fall-outs, and one in particular has to do with love, Wunsch said.
Young, undocumented workers often fall in love with their American friends. Wedding bells ring and children come into the picture—children who are legal U.S. citizens, living with at least one illegal parent, and who live under the fear and threat of an imminent raid by immigration police.
To obtain legal status, the undocumented parent must pay an attorney large sums of money to petition for U.S. citizenship. But here’s the catch. Because the parent entered the country illegally, he or she must go back to their home country and remain there for up to 10 years, depending on how long they lived in this country illegally (it’s called the unlawful presence bar). There are rare exceptions to this rule, Kloet said.
It’s possible to get an extreme hardship waiver, and, unfortunately, the court rarely takes into consideration the presence of children (growing up without a parent) as an extreme hardship, Kloet said.
If a Mexican or any foreigner, for that matter, has left and re-entered this country illegally more than once, the 10-year bar cannot be waived.
Another challenge: immigration fates are not decided in a regular federal courthouse with an impartial judge. Instead these cases go to an immigration court, which is run by the Department of Justice. The prosecutor, arguing for the immigrant’s deportation, is employed by Homeland Security. Both agencies are in the purview of the executive branch, i.e., under the supervision of the U.S. attorney general. Thus, the adjudication can become very political. In these cases, the undocumented worker has no right to an attorney at government expense, and, frankly, most can’t afford the $200 an hour attorney fees, Kloet said.

NO EASY ANSWERS
The immigration issue is huge and complex, which is perhaps why Congress has been paralyzed except for voting down The Dream Act, which would have given legal residency to immigrants who arrived in this country before the age of 16, have lived here for at least five years, graduated from high school, and completed two years of college or honorable military service. Notably, these candidates would still be barred from citizenship if they have a criminal record and wouldn’t be eligible for federal grant scholarships.
Americans living in border states have suffered from organized crime and mayhem as a result of networks of “coyotes” transporting undocumented workers. The influx of huge numbers of migrant workers has bankrupted hospitals and schools, and has changed the entire culture and sense of security in border towns.
These problems seem far away to Northern Michigan, which has relatively small numbers of migrants compared to Arizona or Texas.
But that’s not to say that migrant workers are unimportant to Northern Michigan farmers who need them, nor to the greater economy. Wunsch and his son sat down with pen and paper and calculated that a year’s worth of migrant labor generates $30,000 worth of public revenue. The analysis is lengthy, but to summarize, there is additional labor attached to 800 pounds of cherries picked daily, including transportation, refrigeration, processing, packaging, shipping, and retailing of the cherries, not to mention taxation and government regulation.
“Those involved with the production of the food supply represent less than 2 percent of the population, and yet at the same time, in Michigan, 20% to 25% of the jobs are somehow related to the end of the food production process. The assumption that a person, with or without legal status, is taking someone else’s job is false. The reality is they are creating jobs. They don’t take jobs, they make jobs,” Wunsch said

 
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