A Reader Smells Something Rotten in the Strawberry Fields
February 26, 2006, 04:00 AM
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A Brazilian Reader (In Brazil!) Offers Friendship

From: [Name Withheld]

Re: Edwin S. Rubenstein`s Column: Looking (in vain) for "Jobs Americans Won`t Do"

Here`s a story about illegal alien labor your readers might find interesting, frustrating and amusing albeit in a perverse way.

A few years back when my son was looking for work, he came across an ad from a strawberry patch not too far from our home wherein the owner was looking for pickers at $14 per hour for an 8-hour day.  Since the job paid a good salary, my son gave him a call.

Here`s what happened.

It appeared that the owner was trying to do things the right way by advertising for willing workers as is required by Department of Labor (DOL) before he could be certified to apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a foreign-worker visa permit.

However, what the grower did, as I found out by asking a few questions through my son, was turn down anyone who said that they were a US citizen or had a green card

His goal was to get a DOL certification for foreign workers.  In other words, he had to prove to DOL that he had made an effort by placing an ad and that no one had responded to it in a reasonable period of time.

At the time, my son went to school with a Hispanic friend who agreed to pretend to be illegal. He drove out to the patch and asked about the job. But—surprise— he was told that the wage was $7 per hour for a 14-hour day!

My son`s friend told them that he had several friends and would be back. Of course, he never returned because he is a US citizen and also didn`t want to pick strawberries—at least not at that wage and for that many hours!

So even employers who pretend to follow the rules actually don`t.