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At least 40 workers at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler lost their jobs after federal immigration agents began checking employee records recently, searching for people who are not legally allowed to work in the United States.

 

The enforcement action is part of an ongoing effort by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to make sure employers aren’t knowingly hiring someone who is undocumented.

 

James Schwab, ICE spokesman, said the work site enforcement is nothing new and remains a priority of special agents with Homeland Security Investigations to ensure employers are in compliance with the law.

 

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California's New Minimum Wage

 

California's minimum wage rose from $10.50 to $11 an hour January 1, 2018 for employers with 26 employees or more. These employers will pay at least $15 an hour after January 1, 2022.

 

Labor Shortages

 

The California Farm Bureau Federation reported that over half of 760 farm employers responding to a survey experienced labor shortages over the past year, similar to the share reporting labor shortages in 2012. Of those reporting labor shortages, most reported they were up to 20 percent short of the desired number of workers.

 

Half of the farmers reporting labor shortages increased wages and added benefits and incentives to attract and retain workers, many of whom are aging and reducing their hours of work. A third of farmers used more labor-saving machines, and another 30 percent investigated mechanization. Some farmers reduced their acreage of labor-intensive crops.

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