Sun Valley Farms, a cut flower grower in Arcata, Calif., was forced to lay off half of its workforce after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) found that 283 employees were not eligible to work in the United States due to incorrect employment numbers. Do greenhouse growers share similar fates?
Lane DeVries, CEO of the Sun Valley Group, says ICE could find ineligible employees in any American business.
“The current immigration policy is a threat to the sustainability of the California cut flower industry and to dozens of other sectors across the country,” DeVries says. “We must address this issue and find common ground for the economic health of our industry, our state and our country.”
The development is devastating to Devries. “These were dedicated, hard-working people who have very much become part of the Sun Valley family over the years, and they will be greatly missed,” he says.
According to a recent story in The Times Standard in Eureka, Calif., ICE officials had reviewed Sun Valley Farms’ employment records about seven months ago, when the company was asked to provide I-9 tax forms. The company had not heard from ICE until it was notified about the 283 ineligible employees.