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Press Release: Lars Larson to Receive Farm Industry Immigration Challenge 102307
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Lars Larson to Receive Farm Industry Immigration Challenge

Nursery association leader invites talk show host to “walk a day in the shoes” of an Oregon farmer

October 23, 2007

[Portland] – Today the head of Oregon’s largest agriculture industry group invited popular conservative talk show host Lars Larson to “spend a day on the farm” and see first-hand the importance of the immigrant employment base to the state’s nearly $1 billion nursery industry.

John Aguirre, Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, invited Larson to visit an Oregon nursery, spend a day working, and see first-hand the challenge Oregon growers have in hiring workers and the difficulty of jobs on the farm. Aguirre added, “You need to understand that the Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans working on our farms are not the bad people you would have your listeners believe.”

Aguirre was asked to appear on the Lars Larson show in response to his recent column in the nursery group’s magazine, in which he wrote about the damaging effect of anti-immigrant misinformation over the airwaves. Aguirre objects to inferences that shade all undocumented workers as thugs and sexual predators, noting that “people don't make the arduous journey to the United States to commit crimes, they come to work.” Aguirre wrote in his column, “this is a systematic mischaracterization and dehumanization of people who have come to our country to work for a better life.”

Immigration reform has emerged as one of the most controversial issues for lawmakers and the public, and talk show hosts have focused extensively on the issue as legislative efforts to reform federal law failed. This summer, the U.S. Senate fell short in its effort to enact a compromise immigration bill and in August the Department of Homeland Security created an uproar with strict new requirements to penalize employers who hire workers that lack proper work authorization.

“Clearly, we agree that the immigration system in our country is broken, but the rhetoric of talk show hosts that demonize the immigrant community is counterproductive to reform,” said Aguirre. “We need a responsible solution that provides Oregon farmers access to a legal, willing workforce.”

“Those who make bumper-sticker statements against immigrants show a lack of understanding of how business in Oregon works,” said Aguirre.

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The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,600 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with annual sales of more than $875 million. For information visit our web site at www.oan.org or call 503-682-5089.

Contact Info:

Elizabeth Peters Director of Communications and Publications Oregon Association of Nurseries 503-582-2010 (direct) 503-250-2235 (cel) 503-682-5089 (main) epeters@oan.org

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