1 in 5 in Lancaster County Now Jobless, Yet Gov. Wolf Shills for Foreign Worker Program
Foreigners Take American Jobs Even as Unemployment Skyrockets
President Donald Trump called this week for a suspension of immigration into the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet Pennsylvania agriculture officials say they hope foreign seasonal farm workers will be excluded from the ban.
This comes even as unemployment has surged in the state. There have been more than 1.5 million unemployment claims filed in Pennsylvania since March 15.
Here in Lancaster County, the unemployment rate is estimated to be more than twice the peak hit in the wake of the Great Recession a decade ago, at somewhere close to 20%, depending on how you sort the data.
For comparison, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate statewide was 4.7% in February and 6.0% in March.
With the start of the spring vegetable planting season just around the corner, these are jobs that Americans can and would do, if agricultural businesses weren’t able to get away with paying peon wages.
But even as Lancaster County residents are dealing with chronic unemployment, Gov. Tom Wolf sent a letter to federal officials outlining the “importance” of the H-2A workforce. (H-2A workers are foreigners allowed to work in the United States at below market wages.)
“Now more than ever, the labor demands of Pennsylvania agriculture are high,” it reads. “The H-2A program provides skilled workers that sustain Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and perform essential duties that keep our supply chain strong.”
The local newspaper says that more than 41,000 workers in Lancaster County filed new claims for unemployment benefits since March 1. There were already 10,400 workers with active claims at the end of February.
March unemployment claims show that those in administration and business, food service, and skilled trades, followed by construction, retail, manufacturing, health and dental, and transportation workers.
These people need work. Any work.
There are more than 360 Pennsylvania approved farmwork camps, employing some 4,300 seasonal and guest H-2A workers, according to the state Department of Agriculture
American agriculture companies hire illegal aliens at below market wages, and then we’re told that these are jobs Americans won’t do.
Yes, demanding that agricultural businesses pay fair market wages for the work done would be a strain on those businesses, but we as consumers shouldn’t have the cost of our groceries artificially lowered by government policy, should we?
Our open borders, big business immigration policy is a government subsidy for farm businesses, and an intrusion on the free market’s pricing tool.
Yes, it would mean produce would be more expensive, but what is the cost of having foreigners and illegal aliens doing work when so many Americans are out of a job?
As I mentioned yesterday, conversely, if cheap groceries are a necessity in the public interest, then farmers should receive additional subsidies to pay Americans a fair wage.
Even at minimum wage, and given how many people are out of work, they would have no shortage of American people willing to do these jobs.