State Rep. Paula Hawks has consistently criticized U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem for her failure to support reforms of the EB-5 visa investment program in response to documented corruption. The Democratic aspirant to Congress repeated her position Friday that letting rich foreigners jump the immigration queue is the wrong way to bring in new Americans:
Hawks says when you can find the highest dollar bidder to pay to gain citizenship, and that’s what their interest is, that’s a problem for her. Especially she says when there are others who working towards that goal in a different way [Jack Taylor, “Hawks Continues Denouncing EB-5,” KELO-AM, 2016.08.12].
SDSU ag profs are suggesting we recruit sweat, not cash:
Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate of 65 percent to 70 percent. South Dakota’s unemployment rate is 2.5 percent – the lowest in the nation.
Finding the best job candidates from Puerto Rico and offering services to help them adjust to the vastly different climate and culture of the prairie could serve as a model for recruitment beyond the South Dakota dairy industry, according to Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension agriculture and natural resources program director.
“This is not just about South Dakota,” Garcia told a room filled with dairy industry representatives. “If this works, it’s going to be national.”
The majority of employees in South Dakota’s dairies are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua, professor Karla Hernandez said.
Unlike other members of the Latino labor force, however, Puerto Rican migrants can come to the U.S. and work without applying for visas [John Hult, “Wanted: Puerto Rican Dairy Workers,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.08.12].
First the mega-dairies needed to import money via EB-5 to get started; now they depend on importing workers to keep going. Pretty soon, we’ll have to depend on importing buyers to lap up our dairy supply.
Rep. Hawks and our SDSU profs are making two points that go together. Importing dollars from foreigners with little interest in our state or its economy led to corruption and questionable business practices. Importing workers brings new residents with a much more direct interest in the success of our businesses and our communities. Puerto Ricans who find well-paying work and inviting communities will provide South Dakota towns with the ongoing benefits of dollars in our tax jars, kids in our schools, and families participating in and strengthening our communities.
Related Statistics: The number of dairies in South Dakota has declined every year since 1985. In 1981, South Dakota had 4,650 dairies. In 2015, we had 256. During the EB-5/Joop Bollen era, from 2000 to 2013, South Dakota dairies dwindled 75%, from 1,095 to 273.