While the legislation is welcomed by some as a way to crack down on illegal immigration, others say the loss of up to 85,000 undocumented workers would have
a far-reaching impact on Hoosiers.
"Ag jobs are often ones that are not the first jobs people will take," said Kent Yeager, public policy director for Indiana Farm Bureau. "A lot of people in this country are just not willing to do that work."
Without a reliable immigrant work force, Yeager said, producers of fruits and vegetables, livestock and dairy will be forced to look elsewhere to find workers -- and may even shift their operations to other countries.
"If you don't like being dependent on foreign oil, how will you like being dependent on foreign food?" Yeager said.
That is a message state lawmakers are hearing from opponents -- chambers of commerce, manufacturers, home builders, restaurant owners and Hispanic leaders -- as they debate Senate Bill 335, which would crack down on business owners who knowingly hire illegal workers. Hiring and harboring illegal immigrants is already a federal offense. Violators can be jailed and heavily fined.
McFeely's article focuses on the economic impact of Delph's legislation, but the impact on Hoosier families could be much greater. It threatens to tear apart many U.S. citizen families. Thousands of U.S.-born Hoosiers are married to Hispanics who are in the country illegally. Many of those households have American-born children. If one of the spouses is unable to work, it will wreak economic havoc on these families. Some opponents would argue that is the ulterior motive behind the legislation. About 5% of Indiana's population is Hispanic. It is estimated that there are at least 85,000 undocumented workers in Indiana, most of whom are Hispanic. It's funny that the same people who are always talking about family values are backing legislation which is so anti-family for some Indiana residents.