There is something very seriously wrong with a society in which the president of a trade association feels comfortable going on the record in a newspaper interview to complain about how it isn’t easy anymore to get by on forged ID’s and to admit that employers in his industry routinely suborn forgery and perjury by their new hires. In a society with a functioning system of labor regulation enforcement, such a statement would be an invitation for aggressive spot checks and undercover stings by regulators. Notwithstanding one’s liability for publicly uttering such a thing, referring to the routine enforcement of the immigration and work permitting laws of one’s own country as “hostility” should be an embarrassment.
Mike Gempler’s complaint, as quoted verbatim in the title of this essay, is vague, but one thing that he may well have been referring to is increased vigilance by CBP officers at ports of entry on the Mexican border, resulting in the interception and deportation of travelers who were attempting to enter the United States on forged or altered passports or who were found upon secondary inspection to be in possession of bogus documents. Detaining such travelers at a port of entry and deporting them is one of the most basic lawful exercises of national sovereignty possible. No properly functioning border agency in the world would punish its officers for doing exactly that. Japanese border agents detained and summarily deported one of Kim Jong-Il’s sons a few years ago when he tried to enter Japan on a forged Dominican passport, as one does, and was unable to carry on a basic conversation in Spanish with a passport control officer. When the news broke, the world’s pundits seemed to be in complete agreement that this was an absolutely ridiculous way to try to take one’s young son to Disneyland Tokyo, even for a man whose father was terrorizing North Korea.
So Mike Gempler, the executive director of the Washington Growers League at the time of his interview, wasn’t exactly down with the enforcement of laws against the use of forged documents for immigration and labor purposes. The sovereignty of the US government, as expressed in hey this passport is fake and we’re seizing it as crime evidence, is a buzzkill.
The fish is rotting from the head. There’s another big ag poobah quoted in the Seattle Times article, an attorney named Dan Fazio, who put the number of unauthorized apple pickers in Washington State at 75% of the total labor pool. An “experienced labor and employment attorney,” he’d be expected to know better than to admit to rampant corruption in his industry if he saw a significant likelihood of the enforcement of labor and immigration laws against big growers. Fazio runs a company called the Washington Farm Labor Association. Oddly, the WFLA is based in Lacey, where there’s hardly any local demand for farm labor. If its purpose were really to connect growers with field hands, it would surely be based somewhere near the big ranches, maybe in Bellingham or Yakima. The thing is, places like those aren’t eight miles from the state capitol. They’re just too far from the great Olympia circle jerk. One would hate to break away from the revolving-door backrub chain at the statehouse in order to focus exclusively on matching employers and employees in the provincial cities and villages where they’re needed because Wow Much Fruits.
The WFLA is based in Lacey for the same reason that every shitlord influence-peddling trade lobby representing a business that can’t be carried on in the District of Columbia, like coal mining or almond cultivation, has an office inside the Beltway: it’s where the money is, and it’s where the key bribery targets handle accounts receivable. I can’t find instructions on the WFLA website for how applicants can submit resumes. This is probably by design. They aren’t crazy about the crackers, it seems. I have a resume that they’d theoretically find useful, but I speak fluent English. At least I have some ethically grounded contacts who will call me if they have work available, so I’m not relying on a scummy, lawmaker-fellating organization like the Washington Farm Labor Association to help a honky out.