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NPR has a terrific series going on to start 2014 looking at the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years after it took effect. How the free trade pact affected labor, immigration, wages, the environment, and much more. All the...
Want to watch celebrities milk a cow? Sample the excitement as media personalities concoct the tastiest milkshake? You can witness a calve being born, see the butter sculpture contest, watch the dairy day parade, and then wash it all down with a 25...
Need work? Got skills? Willing to try life in Canada? Well, Canada’s federal government has opened a skilled labor program for  “…to 24 eligible occupations, in addition to applicants with a qualifying job offer or those...
The dairy lobby is flexing its legislative muscles this week with some progress on a couple fronts. Today, Governor Cuomo came through on a promise he made at the Yogurt Summit last summer to raise the threshold when strict environmental rules...
Plenty of White House budget analysis in the news today. On the agriculture side of things, President Obama wants to make deep cuts to the direct payment to farmers program, which has been widely criticized as misguided government spending. Farmers...


Immigration
Jul 22, 2014 — In a recent Gallup poll, most named immigration the biggest problem confronting the nation. But past periods of heightened worries have been brief — and haven't brought about solutions.
Jul 19, 2014 — Saturday is the second day of protests by those opposed housing migrant children in their towns. Murrieta, Calif., is among those cities, but many say the protesters don't represent their city.
Jul 17, 2014 — Several hundred protests will begin Friday in cities across the country, as activists rail against the Obama administration's efforts to temporarily house migrant children detained at the border.
Jul 16, 2014 — Rep. Pete Gallego of Texas represents a district that sprawls for 800 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. He speaks to Audie Cornish about the border crisis as seen firsthand, suggesting the actions he'd like to see the White House and Congress take.
Jul 15, 2014 — Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented Filipino immigrant, has been detained at a Border Patrol station.
 

Special Reports

Audio Series
Farm to Farm, Family to Family: David Sommerstein travels with NC dairy farmers to a Mexican village many of their migrant workers call home.
Audio Series
Hispanic Workers on North Country Farms
Five years ago, just a handful of farmers in the North Country employed Hispanic workers. Now many use workers from Latin America. The transition can be a bumpy one, for farmers and for the people they hire. David Sommerstein tells their stories in this ongoing series.
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein
Juan Carlos (left) lives in a converted farm office in the barn of this dairy farm. He and Freddy want to be able to go home and come back to work on dairy farms here. Photo: David Sommerstein

What undocumented dairy workers think of immigration reform

Dairy farmers - and their workers - have a lot at stake in the immigration debate underway in Washington.

A survey by Cornell University found that 2,600 Spanish-speaking people work on New York dairy farms. Of them, two thirds or more are here illegally. That's in part because there's no visa program for the kind of year-round workers dairy farms need.

The Senate's reform plan offers dairy farms new options for a legal supply of immigrant labor.

Undocumented Latino workers are scattered on bunches of dairy farms in the North Country. David Sommerstein spoke with some of them to see what they think of immigration reform.  Go to full article
People like Evaristo would become much more visible members of North Country communities if immigration reform passes. Photo: David Sommerstein.

How would legal immigration reshape the North Country?

Congress remains deeply divided over the shape of immigration reform. A split within the House GOP caucus endangers any kind of new legislation.

But let's imagine for a moment that the several thousand Latinos working on dairy farms in New York and Vermont could get legal working papers.

How would that change the region's rural communities?

Tom Maloney of Cornell University has been talking with dairy farmers and Latino dairy workers about this for years. He told David Sommerstein farmers are ready to guide their undocumented workers towards legal status.  Go to full article
H2A workers on a North Country Farm. Photo: David Sommerstein

Will immigration reform ease NY's farm labor shortage?

As lawmakers in Washington debate the immigration reform bill released last month, farmers in New York State are hoping to find enough workers to fully staff their operations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee spent a day last week amending the 844-page bill, legislation that includes changes to guest worker programs. The changes may be good news for New York farmers.  Go to full article
Hispanic men and women - some of them quite young - provide labor illegally on many dairy farms. Photo: David Sommerstein

Undocumented farmworkers weigh benefits against risks

New York's farms employ about 60,000 people and no one knows how many of those workers are here illegally. According to one estimate, 70 percent of the state's agricultural...  Go to full article
The Vermont State Capitol. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/afagen/8395548101/">Adam Fagen</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

VT legislature tackling major issues before session's end

The Vermont legislative session is winding down for the year, but lawmakers still plan to tackle some hot button issues over the next week.  Go to full article
Graphic from VT human trafficking task force [http://www.ccvs.state.vt.us/nomoreslaves]

Joining forces to stop North Country human trafficking

Human trafficking is a growing problem across the country...including here in the North Country. Undocumented farmworkers can be threatened with deportation. Sex workers or...  Go to full article

VT House weighs driver's licenses for migrant workers

The Vermont House is hearing testimony on a bill that would grant drivers' licenses to people living in Vermont regardless of their legal status.

At yesterday's...  Go to full article
Hispanic men and women - some of them quite young - provide labor illegally on many dairy farms. Photo: David Sommerstein

Schumer says immigration bill will help NY dairy farms

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says a new bipartisan immigration deal will provide an economic boost to New York farms and the agriculture industry.

In a ...  Go to full article
Hispanic men and women - some of them quite young - provide labor illegally on many dairy farms. Photo: David Sommerstein

Lawmakers push visas for dairy workers

Lawmakers on both sides of Lake Champlain say Congress is making progress on immigration reform. And they want to make sure the dairy industry is a part of it.
...  Go to full article
Sen. Andrew Lanza, a sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in the New York State Senate. Photo: <a href="http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/andrew-j-lanza">Sen. Lanza website</a><br />

Fighting sex trafficking in New York state

Forcing young women and men into a life of prostitution is a very lucrative business.

It may sound like the stuff of Hollywood, but the sex trafficking trade is...  Go to full article

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