A Quick Opinion: Stay cool and enjoy local peaches

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charley Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

It is hard to beat the taste of a fresh peach. My Fay Elberta peach tree died a few years ago from some kind of beetle infestation. It produced hundreds of peaches a year, most of the time when we were on vacation. Two years ago I planted a new peach tree along with a royal apricot tree. The apricot tree produced a small crop this year, but the peach tree is lagging behind. It started out with 15 peaches, but I lost a few when our new puppy crashed into it while chasing his ball. The birds have found the tree and I’m down to 10 that are still too green to pick.

Maybe I’m trying to relive my youth. Most of us worked on area farms when we were growing up. All those walnut and almond trees you see today were once Apricot and Peach orchards. Times change, as do farming practices. With apricots and peaches, farmers had a small window to pick and ship their crops. With almonds and walnuts you can put them in cold storage for a year.

Manpower is a bigger issue with fresh produce than with nut crops. The government had a bracero program into the 1960s that let Mexican farm workers come to California to help harvest our crops, then they would return to Mexico until the next season. I don’t know why the program was cancelled or why we don’t start it up again.

I don’t understand those that want to keep our border closed to immigration. We need more people that want to work and either become citizens or go back home to help with their own local economy. We granted over 700,000 green cards last year and added over 800,000 naturalized citizens. H-1B visas, an upscale bracero program for tech companies, added another 250,000 workers.

I’m not for opening up the border to anyone who shows up, but why not double the number of people we allow to legally enter our country? We can run background and health checks and make someone already here sponsor them and help them adjust to our way of living. It shouldn’t take 10 years to get a work visa to come to America.

There are about four million people claiming unemployment and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 11.3 million job openings. What that means to me is that anyone who wants a job can find one. It may not be the job you want, but there are jobs out there. Every storefront you walk by has a help wanted sign in the window.

Many stores have limited their hours because of employee shortages. Opening up the border would be a boost to our economy and add payroll to keep taxes flowing into our government coffers. When someone talks about how illegal immigrants cost taxpayers money, I say show me your figures. When I think of immigrants I see hard working people trying to make a better life for their families. How many immigrants do you see begging on freeway off-ramps?

As you are enjoying that fresh peach, think about who picked it, packed it, shipped it and sold it to you. Maybe you are lucky enough to have picked it yourself.

Have a good week.

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