History is a funny thing...
One of the most important lessons of the Bracero program occurred at its end, and showed that those closest to agriculture were most wrong about what would happen without Braceros. As Congress debated whether to end the Bracero program in the early 1960s, farmers argued that Americans would not do farm work and that, without Braceros, crops would rot in the fields and food prices would rise. The California Farmer, on July 6, 1963, said that growers and canners "agree the state will never reach the 100,000 to 175,000 acres planted when there was a guaranteed supplemental labor force in the form of the bracero." (Don Razee, "Without Braceros, Tomato Growers will Slash Acreage in ’64," California Farmer, July 6, 1963, p. 5).
These predictions were wrong. Take the case of processing tomatoes. In 1960, 80 percent of the 45,000 peak harvest workers used to pick 2.2 million tons of the tomatoes used to make catsup in California were Braceros, and growers testified that "the use of Braceros is absolutely essential to the survival of the tomato industry." In 1999, about 5,000 workers were employed to ride machines to sort 12 million tons of tomatoes harvested by machine on 300,000 acres. In the tomato case, the end of the Bracero program led to the mechanization of the tomato harvest, expanding production, and a reduction in the price of processed tomato products, which helped to fuel the fast-food boom.
The second important effect of ending the Bracero program occurred near Delano in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Cesar Chavez and his fledgling United Farm Workers union were able to win a 40 percent wage increase from table grape growers, raising wages from $1.25 to $1.75 an hour in 1966, in part because Bracero workers were not available to break a grape-pickers’ strike. During the 1970s, when the UFW had its maximum number of contracts and members, the UFW urged the INS to aggressively enforce immigration laws, and urged restrictions on "green-card commuters," U.S. immigrants who lived in Mexico and commuted seasonally to U.S. farm jobs.
Read the whole thing, fascinating, history always is.
I wanted to note one other thing in this article that I thought was relevant in this article. Before I paste it in I want to remind you that the Gipper said enforcement would be the key to the '86 amnesty...(bold mine)
The WWII Bracero program expired in 1947, but Mexican workers continued to migrate north, and U.S. farmers continued to employ them outside legal channels. In 1950, a presidential commission was asked to review the need for additional Mexican Braceros and, citing distortion and dependence, it recommended that none be admitted. But the Korean War was used in July 1951 to justify approval of a new Mexican Farm Labor Program, PL-78. PL-78 was deliberately limited to six months — at the request of the Mexican government — to put pressure on Congress to approve employer sanctions so that Mexicans would be encouraged to enter the United States under the program instead of illegally.
Congress did not approve employer sanctions, i.e. penalties for employing illegal aliens, and the Bracero program grew in size and lasted longer than anticipated — legal admissions of Braceros peaked at 445,000 in 1956. The most important effects of the Bracero program were indirect, and they set the stage for Mexico-U.S. migration in the 1970s and 1980s:
And they never will approve enforcement, they never have, so why in god's name would they start now? If I could leave you with one thought, every single element of the McCain-Kennedy bill, every word coming out of the Senate regarding things like Amnesty and guest workers are lies that can be disproven historically with reams and reams of data.
Here's another thought, if we do this amnesty it will most likely pump our population up something on the order of 50-60 million in a couple of years. This is of course a guess, but an educated one based on the last amnesty. Does that sound like a good deal to you?
And of course, the '86 amnesty was a one time deal. That's what we were promised as we gave citizenship to 2.7 million people. Now we are asked to give citizenship to 11 million more with zero enforcement in sight. It begs the question, how many new "citizens" will we get in the next one? (and we'd be fools to not pre-suppose a "next one")
If you think I'm exaggerating here, in truth these are probably conservative figures. I'll let you in on a little secret, back in '86 they estimated the population of illegals in this country at 12 million. 500,000 a year enter this country for the last twenty years with massive spikes every time an amnesty was proposed ('86 wasn't the only one, I believe there have been five since then), you do the math.
And of course it's important to remember whenever our politicians cave the next time we won't only be receiving those folks, each one will draw at least three more. So a figure of 90 million, 150 million, or 300 million are not only realistic, but sensible estimates.
Welcome to Calcutta.