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Filling the cheap labor void

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: President Bush will be in Arizona this morning to about immigration. He's trying to get Congress to go along with his ideas, like a guest worker program, and I'm sure Bush will bring up the recent crackdown on companies that hire illegals. From our Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: Workplace raids have netted more than 18,000 suspected illegal immigrants since May.

That's left businesses and farms across the country without the cheap labor force they've come to rely on.

Phil Kent is with Americans for Immigration Control. He says a crackdown in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, for example, severely disrupted its labor force.

PHIL KENT: Most of the illegals left Hazelton. Perhaps some may come back after a while, but if nothing else, it sends a huge signal.

A signal that the country needs to regularize its immigrant workforce.

KENT: Surely in agriculture, and in a couple other selected areas, we do need migrant and guest worker programs. We just need to monitor them and to know who these people are and to make sure they're decently treated and get a decent wage.

While the debate rages on Capitol Hill, crops are rotting in the fields in Arizona and Colorado as they struggle with a shortage of farm hands.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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