Faced with the prospect of crops rotting in the fields for want of hands to pick them, the Bush administration is quietly easing immigration regulations on farmworkers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Farmers have been caught between the recent crackdown on illegal aliens crossing the border from Mexico and the notoriously inefficient H-2A program, which lets farmers apply for temporary immigrant workers.
The adminstration is quietly simplifying the process, expanding its uses, and redefining the word “temporary” to alleviate an anticipated 20% labor shortfall. But farmers are worried that the reforms won’t be in place in time for the 2008 growing season. “It's like a ticking time bomb that's going to go off,” said one farmer. “I'm looking at my fellow farmers and saying, ‘Oh my God, what's going on?’”