Farmer: Without illegal immigrants, strawberry farms fail

Aug 3, 2011

A crackdown on illegal immigrants would put local strawberry farmers out of business.

That’s what one leading farmer in Skagit County told the Bellingham Herald

Steve Sakuma is a co-owner of Sakuma Brothers Farms and a main supplier for Haagen-Dazs ice cream.  He checks the ID of his 230 strawberry pickers, but he admits many of those ID’s are probably fake. His farm was raided a few years ago and some workers were deported.

A proposal in Congress would require electronic verification of ID’s. Sakuma says he’s been unable to get local legal residents to apply for this work, even though he’s paying $10 an hour. Other western Washington farmers say they’re in the same situation. 

The E-verify program is meant to ensure all workers are legal residents. It’s currently voluntary for employers.