Mickey Kaus, who has been working the immigration beat very hard, looks at Arlen Specter's gloating about the possibility of "crops rotting in the fields" and notes various attempts by the Administration to enforce the law so as to ruin the harvest. He suggests that first, if it does happen, then it'll be Homeland Security's fault, and second, that they could bypass the pickers and concentrate on industries that are, or used to be, more attractive to Americans.
It's not true, contrary to DHS Secretary Chertoff's claims, that one of the "consequences" of Congress not passing Bush's semi-amnesty plan was a panic-producing crackdown. DHS could have kept doing what it had been doing, which is letting farmers hire the workers they needed to pick the crops while it concentrated on border security and industries where a supply of domestic workers (maybe at higher wages) was available. If there is a crop-rot-panic, it will almost by definition be intentionally induced by Chertoff. ... P.P.S.: Selective loose enforcement isn't amnesty. It's selective loose enforcement. Looking the other way on occasion—while cracking down in other areas and building up alternative, legal sources of labor—isn't the same incentive to further illegal immigration as granting a formal path to legality and citizenship. ... 9:31
Even so, there are no crops rotting the fields yet. What there is, is a lot of farmers whining and complaining. This is a perennial bumper crop, which is unlikely to fail any time soon.
Here's where I disagree with Mickey:why not let the crops rot in the fields, if that's what it takes to control immigration? The farmers would also let them rot in the fields if there were a sudden fall in price below the cost of picking, as result of a bumper crop elsewhere or any other market cause. And if they suffer because they made all their planting and marketing plans based on a supply of cheap, illegal labor, tough luck!
It's an economic decision, like the decision to abandon an unpaying mine.
No one but the growers suffers when the fruit rots. People will not starve for lack of table grapes,Granny Smith apples, and fresh strawberries.
Any fruit picked by hand is by definition a luxury. If you're willing to consume your fruit in the form of apple sauce and strawberry jam, then it can be picked by mechanical harvesters, a technology seriously underdeveloped in the United States because of the huge supply of cheap labor. If you want fresh fruit, you may have to pay more.
But you'll have to pay either way—every low wage immigrant who enters the country is a net loss on your tax bill. Better to pay a dollar extra at the supermarket.