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"On any given day in October, weather permitting, about 45,000 workers
are needed to harvest Washington’s tree fruit. If all goes well, before
the snow falls they will have picked about $1.5 billion worth of food.
That’s for apples alone, and perhaps an underestimate. This is a big,
important business. ... Washington must import harvest labor, a lot of it, and this year it has
not been easy. The summer was cool, the harvest late and winter early.
The peak of harvest is compressed and, if they can get the fruit off the
tree, the crop may be a record-setter. The demand for workers has
exceeded supply to a degree that has surprised the fruit industry and
prompted Gov. Chris Gregoire to declare a crisis. ... All this comes up for discussion because nearly three quarters of
those 45,000 harvest workers are, by estimates, [unauthorized] aliens. You
could arrest all of them, double the prison population and get close to
filling the need for harvest workers with inmate labor. That might be an
answer to some people’s dreams. There are presidential candidates who
would prefer they be shot or electrocuted as they cross the border,
before they could sell their labor to Washington’s orchardists. If they
could do it, that would leave most of $1.5 billion hanging on trees.
That’s just in this state. Tell me again, why would that be a good
thing?" - Tracy Warner, Editorial Page Editor, Wenatchee World, Nov. 3, 2011.