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Worker issues at top of list

August 13, 2008

Re "Tweaking immigration," editorial, Aug. 8

The problem with "tweaking" our immigration system is that it's so fundamentally broken that small changes can't fix it. Making piecemeal changes until Congress adopts comprehensive reform also raises serious questions about fairness. Why, for example, should software companies immediately gain easier access to more foreign computer programmers when so many other needs go unmet?

That said, if any one issue is to be singled out as urgent, it is the need to address the situation in U.S. agriculture. When more than half of the farmworkers in the country lack authorized immigration status and the government is increasing immigration enforcement, the time for action has arrived.

The AgJOBS bill, agreed to by both farmworker and agribusiness representatives, has strong bipartisan support in Congress but has been stymied by a filibuster from anti-immigrant restrictionists who have no solution for these pressing problems.

AgJOBS would enable eligible undocumented farmworkers to earn legal immigration status and would revise the H-2A agricultural guest worker program in balanced ways, providing meaningful protections against labor abuses. The nation needs a fairly-treated labor force to put fruits and vegetables on our tables. AgJOBS should be at the very top of the list of immigration reforms.

Bruce Goldstein

Executive Director

Farmworker Justice

Washington

Is The Times editorial board clueless? Do your reporters perform research or does your staff just regurgitate the lies from corporate America ?

The Times wrote, "Nevertheless, there is an interim step Congress could take that would help the economy in general and the high-tech industry in particular: Make it easier for skilled foreign workers to obtain green cards and become permanent U.S. residents."

Why do we need more skilled foreign workers when so many American technology professionals are looking for work outside of the profession? Your editorial alluded to foreign workers driving down wages. Well ... you got it! That's why corporate America is crying tech-worker shortage when, in fact, no such shortage exists.

Why not call it what it really is -- a cheap-tech professional shortage.

Bob Johnson

Buffalo Grove, Ill.

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