Undocumented workers bemoan U.S. crackdown - 12/29/2007 - MiamiHerald.com BY ALFONSO CHARDY AND HELENA POLEO, December 29, 2007So the beans could be rotting in the fields if Mr. Dunagan doesn't raise his wages. There already is anÂ H-2A program, which will allow farmers willing to take responsibility for their workers to import them temporarily and then send them home, [PDF] but most farmers would prefer to hire from a pool of illegal labor that's just hanging around. The problem is that those illegals, just hanging around, are causing problems for everyone, whereas the farmers are the only ones who benefit.
For thousands of South Florida's illegal immigrants, the new year offers more uncertainty, discontent and, for many, resigned departure.
From farms in Homestead to day laborer pickup sites in Florida City and Fort Lauderdale, migrant workers are struggling to find work as Homeland Security steps up enforcement after a firestorm of public opinion derailed an immigration overhaul in Congress. That proposal, which failed in the summer, would have eventually legalized millions of undocumented workers.
Adding to the turmoil: a slowing economy.
More than two dozen South Florida employers and undocumented workers interviewed by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald said they worry about tough times ahead. Evidence suggests immigrants are sending less money back to their families in Latin America and the Caribbean.
At Global Money Express in Little Havana, money transfers have dropped by a third in the past few weeks.
''This season is usually the one with the most remittances, but the flow has gone down,'' Global manager Roberto Carlos Tejeda said, adding that similar declines occurred at two other branches near downtown Miami and Little Havana, where many Central American immigrants live.
Several immigrants without work papers are seeing job opportunities dry up and said they're thinking of packing up and leaving employers who count on their cheap labor and seasonal work.
''The raids that have happened during the summer and early fall are a concern,'' said Larry Dunagan, a pole bean farmer in Homestead. Dunagan said labor shortages are possible if the crackdown intensifies.
''There will be a tremendous demand on labor, and a shortage is a concern because we deal with a perishable product,'' he added.