Farmers worry about fate of immigration bills
By JOHN FLESHER
ATWOOD, Mich. (AP) - The immigration debate is focused on border security and people in the country illegally, but the nation's farmers are hoping for legislation that makes it easier for them to hire workers.
Producers of cherries, apples and other fruits in Michigan say the immigration crackdown is leaving them short of laborers to harvest their crops.
The same complaint is heard from Christmas tree growers in the Appalachians, dairy farmers in Wisconsin and California's many fruit and vegetable operations.
A recently approved Senate bill would let experienced farm workers become eligible for year-round residency. Another new program would let farmers hire foreign "guest workers" under temporary visas. But conservative critics say those programs amount to "amnesty."
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