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Ag chief sounds off on farmworker crackdown

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It's become common knowledge that thousands of workers on New York's farms, most from Latin America, are in this country illegally. They work on the books by presenting fake social security cards. The farmer is not obligated to--and has been legally precluded from--verifying the document. New York agriculture officials have been largely silent on this arrangement since latinos began arriving on farms here in the 1980s and '90s. That changed this month when Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker wrote a letter to President Bush. He complained about a new federal crackdown on undocumented workers. It would punish farmers if their workers' social security numbers cannot be proven valid within 90 days. David Sommerstein spoke with Commissioner Hooker about the new policy.

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