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Guest Worker Program

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It's quiet in the Delta orchards now, but during the harvest, farmers say the difference between getting the job done or not is the migrant worker from Mexico.

"You could not pick any commodity, the fields could not be tilled. There just would be no product going to market without Mexican guest workers," said farmer Chris Lee. Lee runs a pear operation in the Walnut Grove area. He says making it legal for "guest workers" to cross the border would simply legitimize what is actually happening every day. "The employers, the farmers all over the river, all over the state of California are technically illegal and the workers are illegal," said Lee.

Not all the workers are illegal, of course, but Lee says it can be difficult to determine just who is and who isn't. If employers find that a worker has given them a false social security card, the law says the worker must be fired. However, many farmers and ranchers find it more convenient to overlook any but the most blatantly forged papers.

Lee says it was the U.S. who first invited workers here from Mexico back during World War Two, when American workers were off fighting and Japanese-American workers had been sent to internment camps. That was the genesis of what became known as the Bracero Program. The guest worker scheme was discontinued in 1964, but now farmers like Chris Lee believe it's time for the program to be revived.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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