The Top 100 Growers Speak Out on Changes Needed in Immigration Reform
Opinions about the new administration’s approach to immigration reform vary widely among Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers. Many say they are “very concerned” about the potential impact on agriculture’s guestworker programs. Others say the entire guestworker program needs to be overhauled to be simpler and easier to use for growers, and hope that this will be part of the reform efforts. And some seem to be generally in favor of the current methods.
“I am in favor of securing the borders but want a simple system for legal residency.” — Dale Buist, Countryside Greenhouse and Farm Market
“All this talk has made huge waves in the migrant labor workforce. Continuing this path will create an even greater shortage of employees willing to do our type of work.” — Mark Worley, Speedling, Inc.
“[Trump] is only enforcing and not reforming. We will lose a lot of our best employees if this continues/expands.” — Lisa Wenke Ambrosio, Wenke/Sunbelt Greenhouses
“Alarming. More work needs to be done to measure any impact in immigration reform.” — Jose Rodriguez, United Nursery
“The border needs to be secured with real guestworker programs. Not working currently.” — James Russell, Armstrong Growers
“Immigration reform is needed, but we must first enforce current laws on the books in an orderly and compassionate manner. There is risk for the current guestworker programs, but we need to focus on enforcing current laws first before enacting any new ones.” — Abe VanWingerden, Metrolina Greenhouses
“I think our borders should be closed. if people are here illegally, there needs to be a way for them to get right at a cost to them, not the American people, or go home to wherever they came from. It will impact us, but this needs to be done.” — George Lucas, Lucas Greenhouses
“Uncertain labor future at the moment — no clear plans from the new administration yet.” — Erik Van Wingerden, Myriad Flowers International
“Don’t feel there will be an impact on guestworker programs.” — Cathy Kowalczyk, Willoway Nurseries
“Guest workers: Expand on the program. President Trump — we are behind getting rid of illegal criminals.” — Richard Wilson, Colorama and La Verne Nurseries
“The H-2A program needs to be revised to allow more workers into the country to meet the labor needs of greenhouse, nursery and traditional farmers.” — Jason Parks, Barks Brothers Farm
“In a tight labor market, immigrants do not take Americans’ jobs; they do the jobs most Americans do not want.”— Bernie Heimos, N.G. Heimos Greenhouses
“We hope the program runs smoother in the initial crossing. Has so far.” — Wayne Cousins, Casa Verde Greenhouses/Petitti Garden Centers