“CBS Evening News” has a history of being tough on businesses that might be engaging in illegal activity or otherwise acting unethically. But there’s one exception – employers of illegal immigrants.
“Jim Zappala says the federal crackdown is killing his business right in the middle of harvest,” CBS correspondent Seth Doane said on the October 10 broadcast. “His onion farm in western New York has been targeted by immigration officials twice in just six months. Workers have been deported. Others are too scared to return.”
Zappala is the owner of Zappala Farms and has openly admitted to hiring illegal immigrants. One solution Doane proposed to Zappala: pay more money and he could get American workers to do the jobs. “I don't think there's any amount of money that we could pay to get workers to come in and hand-clip these onions or help with the field work,” Zappala replied.
According to Doane, up to $9 billion annually could be lost if U.S. farmers “don't get the labor force they need.” However, the costs are much greater when immigration regulations aren’t enforced.
According to a study by The Heritage Foundation, a household headed by an individual without a high school education, which includes about two-thirds of illegal aliens, costs U.S. taxpayers more than $32,000 in federal, state and local benefits. That same family contributes an average of $9,000 a year in taxes, resulting in a net tax burden of $22,449 each year.
“Over the next ten years, the constant dollar net cost of low-skill households (immediate benefits received minus taxes paid) is likely to be at least $3.9 trillion,” wrote Robert Rector, author of the study.
“Aren’t there laws on the books to be enforced?” Doane asked Mike Biltonen, an apple grower in New York facing similar labor woes. “They are,” Biltonen replied. “They are intended to be enforced. I think they haven’t in the past because there has been a recognized problem.”
But Doane warned that “enforcing the current laws will only force operations underground, out of the country or out of business altogether.”