Farmers in Washington state are fearful of the national crackdown on illegal immigration, saying that their businesses could not survive without the work of undocumented workers, The Columbian reports.
Farm owner Steve Sakuma in Burlington, Washington, a region in the northern portion of the state, estimates that 80 percent of his employees were in the country illegally, despite documentation provided to him that proved otherwise. If lawmakers force employers to verify immigration status of employees, he told the publication that his farm and many others would likely be no more.
According to Sakuma, these workers fill a void in the workforce.
“They’re just making a living,” he told the news source. “They’re here doing what other people won’t do. If you think that white America is going to come out here and pick these strawberries, you have been living in the dark for a long time.”
Washington state, under pressure from the public, changed one of its most liberal illegal immigration policies in December 2010. Previously, Washington and New Mexico were the only two states that allowed illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Since then, the Olympian reports that the number of out-of-state driver’s licence applicants without Social Security numbers has been cut by 50 percent.