Wednesday, February 13 2013, 12:05 AM CST
Immigration Reform may affect local economy
By Jessica De Nova/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore.-The Oregon Employment Department says agriculture is of great significance in Jackson County and undocumented immigrants played a vital role in its growth, according to UNETE.
Guy Tauer, Regional Economist with the Oregon Employment Department says Jackson County has the largest number of agricultural employees in the region he oversees -- Coos, Curry, Jackson and Josephine Counties.
He says employees in the industry harvest, trim, prune and set up irrigation systems and reach about 3000 in the county during peak harvesting season.
Dagoberto Morales, Executive Director of UNETE, a local non-profit immigrant and farmworker advocacy group, said the illegal immigrant population contributed greatly to the growth of agriculture in the county. "I remember 1983 and 1985 when I arrived in this area [...] mostly was a few immigrants, few Latinos later on we just grow and companies grow [...] owner of the orchards now they have hired someone to supervise the workers," said Morales.
The non -profit Executive Director said he hopes to hear a message providing a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population during President Obama's State of the Union Address, allowing this population to "come out of the shadows" and allowing them the security of reporting exploitation at the workplace without fear of deportation.
Dagoberto Morales said he believes the economy will also benefit from such a reform. He said in the early '80s, he saw the amnesty create more jobs and provide the economy with a much needed boost.