Didier's Machine Politics

It's easy to be anti-immigrant when wheat farming is mechanized.

Farmer, Tea Partier, and U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier reiterated his support for Arizona's anti-immigration law at this past weekend's state Republican convention. Then he went one step further and suggested that the country should stop giving citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants even if they're born here.Easy for him to say. Many other farmers in this state rely on immigrants, legal or otherwise, to do the backbreaking, low-paying work that native-born Americans eschew. Didier, however, almost certainly has less-demanding labor needs.The crops on his federally subsidized Pasco farm include wheat and barley, both of which are usually harvested with giant combines. Such farmers may need only an extra driver or two, according to Steve Appel, president of the Washington Farm Bureau and himself a wheat and barley farmer. In contrast, apple or cherry farmers typically use dozens of laborers to pick and thin the fruit.Appel says "most farmers" view the Arizona law "as addressing one side of the issue but not the other." If you clamp down on illegal immigration but don't make it easier for immigrant workers to come here legally, he says, "you're actually creating a worse problem."Similarly, Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, another organization that advocates for farmers, has come out for comprehensive reform that would not only tighten the borders but provide a way for illegal immigrants already here to get citizenship.Didier did not return calls seeking comment. But the rhetoric on his website (praising Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for her "courage," for instance) seems more suited to anti-immigrant voters than to his peers—at least those who don't have the luxury of letting a hulking piece of machinery do their work.

 
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