Letter: Washington SB 5689 only a ‘Band-Aid’

Legislation takes care of only one side of the equation.

Published on February 20, 2018 1:06PM

I read with interest Jon DeVaney’s recent comments and his defense of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s support of Washington SB 5689.

I do not envy Mr. DeVaney’s position as he looks ahead to another harvest season with little faith that the Congress of the U.S. will act to fix the federal immigration system in a manner that would create a system overhaul that would both remove the problem of illegal immigrants competing for jobs with American workers or burdening the social welfare network and could guarantee that a legally authorized workforce could be made available for labor intensive crops with legal migrants.

With little faith in the U.S. Congress, I too would be tempted to hedge my bet with a Plan B such as SB 5689. But while Mr. DeVaney suggests that SB 5689 is not “sanctuary,” it is a close cousin that aims to help businesses in Washington that rely upon migrant labor, yet it would not address many of the real issues such as abuse of taxpayer-funded social programs, drugs, gangs and illegal immigration, and to top things off it would put Washington state law enforcement in a compromised position with federal law pushing one way and state law pushing the other.

Why not come up with an actual solution instead of this rearguard action?

Currently employers use both legal and illegal workers, as Mr. DeVaney has said. According to Mr. DeVaney’s own unofficial estimate there could be up to 50 percent of the current migrant workforce that are illegal. Since employers are the ones that need workers, then they must articulate a plan that addresses both their needs and the needs of the community at large. SB 5689 takes care of only one side of the equation.

I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do know this: over the past 30 or more years of back and forth on the immigration question the fruit has continued to be grown, picked and packed and it has been the public that has ended up getting the short end of the stick by paying the tab for enforcement, exportation, incarceration of illegals committing crimes, abuse of public welfare programs, exponential gang and drug growth and criminal activity.

I do not see SB 5689 addressing any of the real problems except those of the employers, it is a “Band-Aid” for businesses and a headache for law enforcement and the public.

Brian Quigley

Camano Island, Wash.


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