NEW ORLEANS, LA. – The colossal impact of immigrant labor in the United States extends to Louisiana’s struggling fisheries.
“I’ve been hiring workers from Mexico, Honduras and everywhere else for 20 years,” Dean Blanchard, president of Blanchard Seafood, Inc., told VOA. Operating on the Gulf Coast, the company accounts for 5-10% of shrimp caught annually in the United States.
Blanchard said foreign workers made his company more efficient and profitable. The difference wasn’t a matter of wages. Rather, he said, it was how much harder they worked than their non-immigrant peers.
“I’ve got to hire 12 Americans to do the same amount of work five Mexicans used to do for me,” he said.
U.S. law allows companies to petition to hire documented foreign workers for temporary jobs. Blanchard says federal agents raided his operation and informed him he lacked the proper paperwork for the immigrants he employed.
He’s since hired an entirely American crew while rival outfits continue to employ immigrants.
“It’s impossible to compete, man, I don’t know how much longer I can do this for. They [immigrants] were so important to the work we did.”
But Blanchard’s sympathetic view of the importance of migrant labor is far from universal in the…