OR farmers worry recent undocumented immigrant arrests will hind - KPTV - FOX 12

OR farmers worry recent undocumented immigrant arrests will hinder agriculture industry

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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

The recent arrests and detentions of undocumented immigrants around Oregon has become a growing concern for the state's agriculture industry.

At a meeting in late April, farmers and ranchers from the Columbia River Gorge sat down with Governor Kate Brown to discuss the issues affecting their businesses, with immigration policy emerging as one of their chief concerns.

Ken Bailey, who attended the meeting in The Dalles, is worried he might not be able to find enough workers to pick his cherry crop during harvest season.

"We need to recruit about 700 pickers, and a couple hundred for the packing house," said Bailey. "Are those people going to come? Are they going to be able to feel safe moving from where they are, be it Washington or California, other parts of Oregon to come to The Dalles to pick cherries?"

The Dalles area typically relies on hiring 6,000 to 7,000 migrant workers to work seasonal jobs, like cherry picking. Those workers are spread over roughly 60 to 70 local farms.

Earlier this year, Gov. Brown issued an executive order, prohibiting state employees, including law enforcement officers, from treating undocumented immigrants as criminals, solely because of their immigration status.

Brown said she also appealed directly to the administration in Washington, D.C.

"I spoke with the Department of Homeland Security's Secretary Kelly about my concerns about what's happening on the ground, and that I want our families to be safe," said Brown. "I don't want parents ripped away from their children."

Bailey said he appreciates the Governor's involvement and interest in the agriculture community.

He remains uncertain, however, about harvest season.

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