Agoura Horse Property - Custom & Equestrian Real Estate by Nona Green

Immigratoin Policy and Your Ranch

 
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Tags:   Immigration Policy and Your Ranch

Who is harvesting your grapes or citrus or avocados?  Besides yourself, who is cleaning your horse stalls?  Many horse or farm property owners say that good help is hard to find.   

Recent changes to immigration policy were promised to create jobs for American workers based on a belief that those entering the country illegally or legally were saturating the job market. According to PEW Research Center, there are not enough workers to fill these jobs.  The pay is low, the work grueling.  In the agriculture business, immigrants make up the majority of hirees. 

The proponents of Senate Bill 54 say it is needed for humanitarian reasons.  SB 54 has the support of law enforcement who say it maintains trust and the level of crime reporting.  It would expand so-called sanctuary city policies, prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes. This bill is hoped to result in fewer deportations and keep families together.  At the time of this writing, the Bill passed the Senate and is under review by the Appropriations Committee of the State Legislature.

Some say the bill falls short of protecting migrant workers. What is missing from the bill are protections to ensure that they are not overworked and underpaid,  that they receive breaks and days off, and that they are provided safe and sanitary work conditions.  Existing labor laws may fill that purpose,  yet undocumented workers are vulnerable to exploitation.

What are an employer's responsibilities when hiring a housekeeper or a horse groom, for example?  They must ask a prospective worker for their Form I-9. An employer may be subject to fines or jail time if they do not verify an employee's employment authorization and withhold unemployment and disability taxes from wages.  If a prospective worker has a temporary visa, the employer can sponsor that person for "green card" or lawful permanent residence in the US.  Meanwhile, if ICE comes knocking on your door, you can decline to provide information about your employees.  Without a warrant signed by a Federal or State court, an ICE agent is not authorized to come onto your property.

Contributor for this article: Vanessa Frank, Immigration Attorney
City of Ventura  805 641-9300

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