Suburban farmers have heard politicians promise before and fail to fix immigration laws that make it tedious, precarious and cumbersome to hire laborers from nearby countries who want to work here.
So as the nation once again debates immigration reform, one group in suburban farm country is making sure politicians hear the message that the need for non-American workers is acute, even if the agricultural jobs in question are no longer primarily for harvesting corn or picking apples.
The thriving horse industry in northern Westchester and surrounding towns in the three-county region depends heavily on horse grooms, horse trainers and barn managers from Mexico and Central America to keep business growing.
“As barn owners and horse-business owners, we want the system fixed,” said Patricia Peckham, co-owner of Arcadia Farm in Yorktown and chairwoman of the Westchester County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board. “There is too much to lose.”