The cotton was pretty well harvested when I drove through Southwest Texas yesterday and today, but I was stopped twice by Border Patrol Agents needing to ask a few questions while their dogs circled my car. The agents were polite but made no gestures of friendliness. In the motel breakfast room this morning, three agents conversed over coffee. It’s obvious to a casual visitor that those responsible for Immigration and Customs Enforcement are doing their job.
Two nights ago I read excerpts of a letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in which she asks the Secretary for Homeland Security to stop “cracking down” on undocumented field workers saying she is concerned it would lead to financial losses and higher food prices.
I have written often about the difficulty western farmers have in finding enoughg legal workers to harvest their lettuce, fruit, and nut crops. Vintners share that difficulty but are able to offset it somewhat because of cadres of wine lovers willing to turn the hard work of grape cutting into something somewhat festive.
But make no mistake about it. Harvesting crops — even wine grapes — is excruciating work. As a youth I dug cranberries along Puget Sound and picked blueberries along Lake Michigan. I have watched wine grape harvesters from the Piedmont to the Pacific, so I know full well why so many job-hunters look elsewhere for employment.
I am not competent to judge who should be allowed to work in our country, but I do know our wine producers need more labor than they are able to find under current circumstances. Unless somebody does something, I shall soon have to do with less wine or pay much higher prices for it.