Wednesday, October 12, 2005

AZ Political News Round-up

Spotlight Story
In the green fields and orchards of southern Arizona, chiles are shriveling on the vine and apples are falling from trees because there's no one to pick them.

It's the latest sign of a farmworker shortage that is becoming a costly national trend.

Farmers in Arizona attribute the shortage in large part to the crackdown along the U.S.-Mexico border. For towns with a heavy U.S. Border Patrol presence such as Willcox and Yuma, it has made keeping a stable work force impossible.

The crisis has highlighted the industry's dependence on the labor of illegal immigrants. In 2001, a U.S. Department of Labor survey found that about 53 percent of the 1.8 million farmworkers in the country were here illegally. Local farmers suggest the number is more like 80 percent to 90 percent.

"Our industry cannot exist without a foreign work force," said Thomas Nassif, president of Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, one of the largest farming associations in the country.

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