Guest Worker Program Proposed in Valley

June 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some Latin American leaders were in the valley Saturday and believe they may have a solution to the debate over guest worker visas and immigration reform in America.According to these leaders the solution's easy. Start by training three-hundred Central American's in a specialty skill and then allow farmers here to request who and how many workers they need. Either you do it or the farms disappear. It's so critical.

A compelling argument by Adolfo Facusse. He and several Latin American leaders propose a new guest worker program is needed that will treat immigrants in America fairer and with more respect.

"We're trying to help change the situation gradually into something that will be workable and will maintain the activities of San Joaquin," says Facusse.

One of the solutions to immigration reform puts American farmers in control picking out a skill set needed on their farm. President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras, says "And then our country would select them to provide them. It's not really something that comes out of the demand of us putting our people here but really the product of the reality here in California."

And one of those skilled workers learning the agricultural trade in California is Darwin Cruz from Honduras. He plans to go home and teach others how to farm so they can work in America.

"That will be great for me and my family because I will support them and everything else is possible," says Cruz.

Debbie Jacobsen sees the value in immigration reform. She says finding skilled workers to tend her crops can be difficult. "We have to look at other venues and ways to make sure that we have a work force to pick the crops that we have in our field," says Jacobsen.

Officials expect it will take a year to get this new guest worker program up and running.

There were only a couple Californian leaders who listened to these arguments for immigration reform during the summit. Also discussed were ways to address legalization for workers already here--by some estimates there are thousands of undocumented workers in the central valley alone.


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