Report of the seminar on
Integration Issues and Immigration Policy:
Focus on Southern Florida
May 6, 1998
IMMIGRANTS IN MIAMI AND SOUTH FLORIDA 2
Four Waves of Immigrants 3
Miami-Dade County 4
City of Miami 5
IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION 6
Schools and Language 6
Other Hispanics 9
IMMIGRATION EMERGENCIES 9
Krome Service Processing Center 10
IMMIGRATION AND AGRICULTURE 11
Farm Labor 12
Citrus Mechanization 13
Sugar and H-2 14
IMMIGRATION AND AFRICAN-AMERICANS 15
The sixth Migration Dialogue seminar was held April 16-19, 1998 in Miami. Migration Dialogue seminars provide an opportunity for 40 to 45 opinion leaders from France, Germany, and the US to discuss, in an off-the-record setting, the major immigration and integration issues facing the industrial democracies. Each seminar includes field trips, so that participants can learn about these issues directly from employers and immigrants and from immigration and integration authorities.
This report was prepared after the seminar, and is being distributed to participants in the Miami seminar and to other interested parties. Since it has not been approved by participants, it should not be construed as a consensus document discussed and debated by participants. An agenda and list of participants are attached.
1. Since 1959, when the Cuban revolution set off a wave of migration, southern Florida has grown and changed greatly. The proportion of Hispanics went from under five percent to about 55 percent of residents. Many non-Hispanic whites left, and first-wave Cubans achieved economic success and political power: Miami is the one major US city in which Hispanics dominate numerically, politically, and economically.
2. First-wave Cubans arriving between 1959 and 1962 successfully reoriented the Miami economy away from seasonal tourism, toward trade and banking, making Miami a gateway to Latin America. Most explanations for the economic success of first-wave Cubans emphasize their high levels of education (middle and upper classes came first), massive US government assistance, formation of an enclave economy that absorbed savings (remittances to Cuba were prohibited), and the ability of first-generation Cubans to achieve political power in Miami.
3. "Hispanic" in south Florida no longer means Cuban. Much of the growth in the region's Hispanic population is due to (1) immigration from the Caribbean and Central and South America as well as (2) the internal migration of, for example, Dominican immigrants from New York to Miami. Cubans, who were 90 percent of Hispanics in south Florida in 1970, are now only 60 percent of the region's Hispanics. Reflecting the growing diversity of southern Florida's Hispanics, the main Spanish-language daily, El Nuevo Herald, reprints articles from 11 Latin American newspapers to keep Spanish readers in touch with events in their countries of origin.
4. African-Americans are, by all accounts, the group that has been left out. Many educated Blacks have left southern Florida for cities such as Atlanta and Washington. The US Blacks who remain are concentrated in Overtown and Liberty City, areas of Miami that experienced four riots in the 1980s after incidents involving white or Hispanic police officers and African-Americans.
5. The 150,000 Haitians are the second-largest immigrant group in southern Florida. Although better educated than most Haitians, most adult Haitians in Florida have not completed high school. Among second-generation Haitians, some have embraced US Black culture; others have sought to distance themselves from US Blacks and emphasize that they are "Haitians," not "Blacks."
Immigrants in Miami and South Florida
Miami is the southernmost large city in the US, closer to Cuba than to Tallahassee, the state capital. Miami was incorporated as a city in 1896 after the railroad was extended south, and Miami served as a winter playground for rich northerners for the first half of the 20th century--many of the grand beach hotels closed between March and November. Until 1960, Miami was a traditional southern city, and Black-white was the major racial and major socio-economic divide.
Miami was transformed by immigration from Cuba and Latin America. In 1960, metro Miami had fewer than one million residents, and their race/ethnic composition was 80 percent non-Hispanic white, 15 percent Black, and five percent Hispanic. By 1990, metro Miami had almost two million residents, and they were 30 percent non-Hispanic white, 20 percent Black and 50 percent Hispanic.
Miami is like Los Angeles in the sense that it is near a major source of immigration to the US, the Caribbean (Mexico). It is different from Los Angeles in accepting of Spanish as a language of business and commerce. As in Los Angeles, many middle-class Blacks are employed directly or indirectly by government, and many lower-class Blacks resent continued immigration that is perceived to hold down wages and limit opportunities for them.
Four Waves of Immigrants
The two key dates in modern Miami's history were 1959, when Castro took power in Cuba, and 1980, when Miami experienced a riot, the arrival of Mariel Cubans, and an English-only initiative. One million Cubans--almost 10 percent of the current population of Cuba-- have migrated to the US since 1959.
Cuban migration occurred in four waves: 1959-65, 1965-73, 1980, and since 1994. The first wave were primarily middle and upper class Cubans. Many had visited the US before the Castro revolution, and many became successful in southern Florida. The second wave arrived in freedom flights in the late 1960s, and included more women and elderly Cubans. First- and second-wave Cubans, unlike other refugees, entered the US under the discretionary parole authority of the US Attorney General because they did not fit into existing admissions categories. Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, however, Cubans who were paroled into the US could apply for immigrant status one year and one day after their entry.
The third wave--the Mariel boat lift of 1980--for the first time included significant numbers of Blacks and mulattos from the bottom rungs of Cuba's socio-economic ladder. Mariel occurred just after the US enacted the Refugee Act of 1980, which adopted the 1951 UN definition of refugee, that presumed that refugees would be screened individually overseas. Rather than using the new Refugee Act to determine which Cubans to admit, the US once again used the parole authority, admitting Marielitos as special entrants, and the Cuban Adjustment Act then permitted them to become immigrants a year and a day later. Haitians who arrived on boats were also admitted as special entrants, but they were not covered by the year and a day rule, so most of them did not obtain legal status until the IRCA amnesty of 1986.
The current wave of migration, the fourth, began in 1994. After 20,000 Cubans arrived in southern Florida in August 1994, the US ended its policy of picking up Cuban rafters and bringing them to the US, where they could become immigrants after a year and a day. In exchange for ending automatic immigration status, the US guaranteed at least 20,000 immigration visas per year to Cubans. However, Cubans seeking to emigrate legally must pay $1,000 fees to the Cuban government; annual incomes in Cuba are less than $500.
First-wave Cubans assumed leadership of the Cuban-American community, and committed themselves to the overthrow of Castro; many saw themselves as exiles, not as immigrants. The depth of anti-Castro feelings were evident in 1990, when Cuban-American political leaders snubbed visiting South African President Nelson Mandela because of his friendly ties with Cuba. In response, Blacks organized a "Boycott Miami" movement that lasted from 1990 to 1993. There is some change in Cuban-American attitudes toward Castro, with some leaders and groups urging the restoration of trade.
The year 1980 was a turning point for immigrant Miami. In March, Miami experienced a riot after the police officers involved in the death of a Black insurance agent were acquitted. Beginning in May, some 125,000 Cubans who left from the port of Mariel arrived in Miami, including 90,000 who settled in the Miami area. A few were criminals, and their presence tarnished the image of Cubans as a model immigrant group. In November 1980, an official English initiative was approved by voters.
In 1998, there are about 2.1 million residents living in Miami-Dade county, including 669,000 residents of Cuban origin, 110,000 Haitians, 74,000 Nicaraguans, 54,000 Colombians, 23,000 Mexicans, 23,000 Dominicans, 18,000 Hondurans and 16,000 Peruvians. The 2,000 square-mile Miami-Dade county is sometimes called "the capital of the Caribbean."
Miami grew and prospered with immigrants brought to the US by foreign political events. Once in the US, Hispanic immigrants were able to turn Miami into a business gateway or bridge to Latin America. As Latin America prospered, so did Miami--it is sometimes said that local real estate prices reflect what is happening in Brazil or Colombia more than trends in the rest of the US.
Miami is often described as the international trading hub of the Americas. It is second only to New York City in the number of foreign banks and airlines represented. Almost 30 broadcasting and cable companies, including ESPN, Discovery and MTV, have their Latin American headquarters in Miami.
Miami also has major economic problems. Miami's economy has been weak since the demise of major companies such as Eastern Airlines and Southeast Bank in the late 1980s, the 1990-92 US recession, and the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. In April 1998, Knight-Ridder (Miami Herald), the United States' second-largest newspaper publisher after Gannett Co. and one of the few Fortune 500 corporations based in Miami, announced that it was moving its headquarters to northern California.
In 1997, Miami-Dade county had the highest unemployment rate of any major urban area in the US--7.2 percent--prompting the creation of the One Community-One Goal economic development program, which aims to create 120,000 jobs in the biomedical, film and entertainment, financial services, software, international trade, telecommunications and tourism industries in Miami-Dade over the next 10 years.
Tourism remains a major employer. Miami-Dade county had 10 million overnight visitors in 1997, and some 270,000 people--one-fourth of the county's labor force--are employed in tourism. Transportation is also important: some 45,000 persons are employed by the Port of Miami, the world's leading port of call for cruise ships. Miami International Airport (MIA) employs 33,000 workers. Major private employers and their mid-1990s level of employment include: American Airlines, 8,200; University of Miami, 7,400; Bellsouth, 5,800; and Winn-Dixie, 5,000.
In promoting job creation, One Community-One Goal noted several problems:
1. Education. One third of the adults in the Miami-Dade area have not finished high school. One fourth of the 350,000 K-12 children in public schools were born outside the US, and one fourth are from families with below poverty-level incomes (another 50,000 children attend private schools). Public school children are 50 percent Hispanic, 34 percent Black, and 15 percent white and other. About 60 percent of school children are from families in which a language other than English is spoken at home, but non-English language skills are generally not sufficient to conduct business in the foreign language.
2. Crime. Miami has one of the highest crime rates in the US.
3. Business. Miami-Dade county is a collection of 29 independent cities, each with its own mayor and government, which increases the cost of doing business. Miami is the largest of these cities, but with only 375,000 residents, it is a mid-sized city (Hialeah is second, with about 200,000 residents, Miami Beach third with about 100,000). It is reportedly hard to persuade businesses to relocate to Miami, or to move key personnel to the area, because of the reputation of the schools, crime, and the difficulty of commuting from residences to jobs. Miami reportedly has a "sun and fun" rather than a business image.
Like Miami, Florida has grown rapidly since 1940, from two million residents to about 15 million. Florida has no personal or corporate income tax.
City of Miami
Miami's residents are about 66 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Black and 13 percent white. About 60 percent of the city's residents were born in a foreign country.
Miami is often described as containing three or four separate populations:
oa non-Hispanic white elite, often richer retired persons who moved to Miami from elsewhere in the US.
oCuban-Americans, both the upper/middle class who arrived in the 1960s and more recent arrivals
oother Latin Americans, including Nicaraguans, Haitians, and nationals from most Latin American countries
oUS-born Blacks who are, by most accounts, at the bottom of Miami's socioeconomic ladder.
The city of Miami has been in the news, among other reasons, because the last election was voided. A runoff mayoral election with fewer than 45,000 votes was narrowly won by Xavier Suarez in November 1997. In March 1998, the election was voided because of absentee vote fraud centered in Little Havana; a new election is scheduled for May 5, 1998. There are five major voting blocks: Black, Jewish, Anglo, Cuban and non-Cuban Hispanic.
In US immigration history, the immigrants of today are the ethnics of tomorrow and Americans in the third generation. Standard integration analyses find that Italians or Mexicans become Italian-Americans or Mexican-Americans in the second generation, and then simply Americans by the third generation. The integration of immigrants and their children, the process of becoming American, ultimately determines the long-run consequences of immigration on the US.
Schools and Language
Most children of immigrants quickly learn English and adopt American values and aspirations. One study of the children of immigrants attending high school in South Florida found that 99 percent spoke English fluently by grade nine.
In the 19th and early 20th century, most publicly supported bilingual education was in German and English. That ended in World War I. Miami led the way to revive bilingual programs at Coral Way elementary school in 1963; the goal was to teach English, but also to maintain Spanish. In 1973, the Dade County Commission declared the county that includes Miami to be bilingual and bicultural and in 1976, the Miami Herald launched a Spanish-language insert, El Nuevo Herald.
The bilingual program at the Coral Gables Elementary School was begun in 1963 in response to Cuban immigration. It has maintained the same mix of 60 percent instruction in English and 40 percent in Spanish. Classes are team-taught, and the Spanish-language teachers must be bilingual to work with their colleagues who teach in English and do have speak Spanish. The school is recruiting teachers in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries to maintain bilingual instruction.
Almost 14 million US children are immigrants or the US-born children of immigrants--they are 20 percent of US children--and their number has risen sharply from eight million in 1990. The largest ongoing study of immigrant children learning English found that 90 percent of the immigrant children spoke a language other than English at home, but 90 percent of the children preferred to speak in English by the time they left high school. The study suggests that immigrants today fit the three-generation model that has characterized language acquisition throughout American history: the immigrant generation rarely learned English well, their children were bilingual, and their grandchildren were monolingual in English.
Many non-Hispanic whites left Miami-Dade county in response to immigration. Some of those who remained resisted the widespread use of Spanish. In July 1980, the "English Only" movement got its start in the US in the Miami area on talk radio, and demanded that only English be used by government.
Despite the active opposition of white business leaders, 71 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 44 percent of Blacks, and 15 percent of Hispanics voted for official English in November 1980. A statewide English Only proposition was approved by Florida voters in 1988. The effect of both the county and state measures has been blocked court decisions.
In 1998, the 550,000 Cuban-born or Cuban origin residents are about 60 percent of the Hispanics in south Florida. Cubans in the US have been extraordinarily successful in gaining economic and political power. Of the 80 Hispanics in the US worth $25 million or more, Hispanic Business magazine reported that 32 were of Cuban origin. The 900,000 Cuban-born US residents (perhaps two million Cuban-Americans) are represented by three Congressional representatives.
The Cubans of Miami is the greatest Latino immigrant success story in the US. The success of Cuban immigrants in Miami is attributed to at least three factors:
1. The upper and middle classes arrived first, bringing significant human capital. Their earnings could not be remitted to Cuba; instead, they were invested locally.
2. The US government welcomed them and provided enormous financial help.
3. First-generation Cubans were able to achieve political control of Miami, and thus consolidate their economic gains.
In Miami, Cubans were able to build a new enclave economy from the ground up. Strong relationships forged in Cuba, and reinforced in Miami in continued opposition to the common enemy Castro, helped Cubans to achieve the American dream quickly. Cubans did not include Blacks in their enclave, kept other Latino immigrants at arms length, and shunned many of the working-class Mariel arrivals in 1980.
Today, Cubans increasingly employ Central American workers in their construction, manufacturing, and service industries. Gator Industries, for example, was begun by Cuban immigrants in 1968 to manufacture non-branded rubber and plastic shoes for retailers such as K-Mart and Wal-Mart. The production process is labor-intensive, and the company hires workers seasonally and pays them on a piece rate or incentive basis. Gator's success has been attributed to the fact that producing in the US allows it to provide superior service to retailers. Gator sold about 12 million pairs of sandals and athletic shoes in 1996 for about $50 million, getting about $4 per pair of shoes that retail for $6 to $19.
If the US were to normalize relations with Cuba, the economy of southern Florida would change again. Cuba in 1996 had a per capita GDP of $1,500, half that of Jamaica, and under normal trade relations would likely become a major destination for US winter tourists and a producer of winter vegetables. Under the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, the US may not normalize trade relations with Cuba until the 6,000 property claims of US citizens worth $1.8 billion in 1972 have been resolved by a democratic Cuban government. Currently, Canadian companies are the biggest foreign investors in Cuba.
A 1998 poll of 1200 Florida voters found that 53 percent wanted to end the US embargo of Cuba and permit US citizens to travel to Cuba, while 37percent wanted to maintain the embargo and travel restrictions. In a similar 1995 poll, 38 percent wanted to end the embargo, and 46 percent wanted to continue it.
Haitians arrived in south Florida in large numbers during the Carter administration: between 1977 and 1981, some 50,000 to 70,000 Haitians made the 720-mile boat trip from Haiti to Florida. Since 1981, Haiti has allowed the US Coast Guard to stop boats in Haitian and international waters to determine whether they were carrying Haitians to the US. The US would interview the Haitians at sea, and determine whether any should be permitted to enter the US and apply for asylum. Most were returned to Haiti and told to apply for refugee status there.
When the elected Aristide government was overthrown, the US briefly sent Haitians interdicted at sea to the US Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. As the number of Haitians interdicted at sea increased, US policy changed again, and all Haitians were returned to Haiti.
Worsening conditions in Haiti in 1994 forced another change in US policy. In June, 1994, the US announced that Haitians picked up at sea and seeking asylum would be eligible to present to US asylum officers on board US ships evidence that they face persecution in Haiti. Thousands of Haitians got into boats--on one day, July 6, 1994, 11,627 Haitians were picked up by the US Coast Guard. Those turned down, about 70 percent of those requesting asylum, were returned to Haiti.
In July 1994, a new policy of temporary protection was begun. Haitians picked up at sea would be given safe haven in the region, but not be permitted to enter the US. The number of Haitians picked up at sea fell sharply-- not a single Haitian was picked up at sea during the week of July 16. In mid-July 1994, there were still 16,500 Haitians at Guantanamo, and they began to trickle back to Haiti after they learned that, even if they could prove they needed safe haven, they would not be going to the US. After the US intervened in Haiti in September, most of the remaining Haitians at Guantanamo returned; a few were permitted to enter the US to file asylum applications.
The Haitians were the boat people no one wanted: 95 percent were not high school graduates, and discrimination, as well as fears of disease, caused many employers to refuse to hire Haitians. Miami leaders--Cuban as well as non-Cuban--put pressure on the US government to halt the influx of Haitians.
Inevitable comparisons have been made between the very generous US policies toward Cubans and the more restrictive policies toward Haitians. The Congressional Black Caucus has been forceful in arguing that the policy of welcoming Cubans and stopping the entry of Haitians is racist, and their protests have sometimes prompted the US to relax its policies.
However, in 1997 Congress approved the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, which grants immigrant status to Nicaraguans, Cubans and some Eastern Europeans in the US, and makes it easier for some Salvadorans and Guatemalans to remain in the US, but does nothing to make it easier for Haitians and Hondurans to remain in the US. In response to pressure, President Clinton granted an estimated 40,000 Haitians Deferred Enforced Departure, or the right to live and work in the US until at least December 22, 1998 to Haitians who applied for asylum before December 31, 1995.
The 350,000 to 450,000 Haitians in the US remit $500 million annually to Haiti. There are an estimated 100,000 unauthorized Haitians in the US.
About 40 percent of southern Florida's Hispanics are non-Cuban, reflecting the re-direction of Latin American immigrants from the northeastern US to Miami, and new immigration streams from Mexico and Central and South America.
Until the late 1980s, most Latin American immigrants bypassed southern Florida for the mid-Atlantic region: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Haitians, and others tended to migrate to New York City rather than to Miami. Today, the growth of the Hispanic population in southern Florida comes primarily from non-Cubans, both from immigration and from high birth rates among immigrants. Major countries of origin include Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
The major local paper is the Miami Herald, which many Cubans considered anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic until the mid-1980s. For example, the Miami Herald described the arrival of Cubans, Nicaraguans, and other Latin American immigrants in consistently negative terms (Portes and Stepick, 1993, 29). In 1987, the Herald changed course, and welcomed the US announcement that Nicaraguans would not be deported, but instead provided with temporary residence and work permits. In 1988, the Miami Herald launched the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald.
Miami experienced several immigration emergencies, beginning with the return of defeated soldiers from the Bay of Pigs in 1961. The biggest emergency was the arrival in May 1980 of 125,000 Cubans who departed from the Cuban port of Mariel. At least 10 percent of these Marielitos were criminals, and their presence stigmatized all Cubans in south Florida and the US. A 1982 Roper Poll reported that 59 percent of US residents thought Cubans were "mostly bad" for the US, compared with 43 percent for Puerto Ricans, 39 percent for Haitians, 34 percent for Mexicans, and 11 percent for Germans (Portes and Stepick, 1993, 31).
The possibility of another mass migration haunts Florida, which has pressed the federal government to develop more effective contingency planning for mass arrivals by boat. The current federal plan assumes that safe haven for persons fleeing political persecution will be provided outside the US but in the region. Any foreigners arriving in Florida in small boats during emergencies will be taken out of the state as soon as possible, and accommodated with federal funds until their status is determined.
Krome Service Processing Center
The Krome Service Processing Center is one of the best-known INS detention facilities. Opened in 1981 to detain Haitians, Krome is located 23 miles from downtown Miami on the edge of the Everglades.
Krome has the capacity to hold about 300 persons in its permanent facilities, and has land and tents to expand quickly. In a brand new addition opened in April 1998, men and women are held separately in barracks or six "pods" that each contain 50 persons. Each pod has bunk beds, a TV, chairs, showers and pay telephones--all fixtures are bolted to the floor. Non-criminal detainees are given orange jumpsuits and criminal detainees are given red uniforms. The two groups are mixed together in the barracks. Detainees leave the pods for meals, health care, and to meet with their attorneys; however, recreation time outside the air-conditioned pods seems to be limited to one or two hours daily.
All persons in Krome are non-US citizens. Their rights are more restricted than those of US citizens accused of crimes. There were no postings of their rights, and the list of assistance agencies available for detainees was posted only in English. There were few books or other materials available in any language, and most of the communication between INS detention staff and detainees is in English.
The population of detainees changes daily. Persons are sent to Krome after arriving at the Miami airport without documents or with false documents, or arriving illegally by boat. Some are detained in workplace or other inspections, and some are at Krome awaiting return to their countries of origin.
The INS has some discretion in deciding whom to detain. INS policies place priority on detaining criminals, followed by those most likely to abscond. Foreigners who arrive in the US without proper documentation (and are in expedited removal proceedings) must be detained until their cases are resolved, although the INS can release those who make "credible claims" that they face persecution at home, i.e., those who are likely to be granted asylum in the US.
Some INS districts release all persons who can establish a credible claim of persecution, some release no one, while Krome follows a middle ground, releasing credible applicants who have relatives in the Miami area. However, when Krome reaches its capacity, non-criminal aliens are sometimes released to make room for new arrivals.
Some of those detained believe that by appealing their denials of asylum etc, they might be released if Krome reaches capacity. However, if space is available, those who appeal denials of asylum may remain in Krome for many months. Other detainees who are likely to remain for long periods are those from countries that do not accept the return of their nationals, such as Cubans. Since the US has no readmission agreement with Cuba, Cubans who have been convicted of crimes in the US that make them deportable can be detained indefinitely.
Krome achieved notoriety in June 1995 when the INS removed detainees so that a visiting Congressional delegation would not observe overcrowded conditions. Several INS employees were later disciplined for lying about the release policies and number of detainees in Krome.
Immigration and Agriculture
About 60 percent of Americans live in the Eastern time zone which includes Florida, but 60 percent of labor-intensive fruits and vegetables are produced in the west, including 40 percent in California. Florida is the eighth leading agricultural state in the US, and the most important farm state east of the Mississippi River, with farm sales of about $6 billion a year, one-fourth as much as California.
Florida is a leading producer of winter vegetables, such as beans and tomatoes harvested between November and May, and of oranges that are processed into orange juice. Almost one-third of the value of Florida's agriculture output represents citrus. Oranges are harvested by about 45,000 young immigrant men who climb ladders, pick oranges and put them into sacks worn over their shoulders that weigh 90 pounds when full.
Miami-Dade county, with 80,000 acres of farm land, is a leading producer of winter vegetables ($200 million), tropical fruit ($56 million) and ornamental plants ($266 million); tropic fish sales are $3 million per year. Miami-Dade produces about 25 percent of all foliage sold within the US and supplies a significant market in Europe, and up to one-half of US beans, squash and potatoes during the winter months. There are about 10,000 acres of limes, avocados and mangoes in the county; in addition, mamey, sapote, plantains, papayas and carambola are grown.
An estimated 23,000 farm workers, most from Mexico and Central America, earn an average $5,600 each per year in the county. In the past, many of the farm workers in the Homestead-Florida City area migrated northward; they "followed the sun" harvesting vegetables in southern Florida between December and April, then migrating to Georgia and the Carolinas to harvest onions, peaches and tomatoes, and then further north to harvest apples. The disappearance of housing for migrant families along this route, as well as nursery jobs with a longer season, has reduced migration out of the area.
Single or solo men have always played an important role in the Florida agricultural work force; there is consequently a relatively large supply of barracks-style housing for farm workers. However, in response to stepped-up enforcement of housing regulations, many farmers stopped providing housing to workers, so most workers today live off the farm.
Settlement in the Homestead area makes the inability of farm workers to afford decent housing obvious. Rents average $400 to $600 a month in the private market; $500 monthly rents or $6,000 a year exceeds annual average farm earnings. Several community leaders were able to secure federal funds to help migrant workers build small houses that can be bought for about $65,000, with $1,500 down and mortgage payments of $300 to $400 per month.
Federal funding has dramatically improved conditions for the 20 percent of the area's farm workers who are accommodated. In addition to nice housing at affordable prices, migrants in the subsidized housing have access to a variety of government services, including free child care (Migrant Head Start), supplemental education services for their children, and free health care services.
The farm workers most likely to move into the subsidized housing are those who are moving out of seasonal harvesting work by finding, for example, year-round nursery or equipment operator jobs, or nonfarm jobs. Their upward movement creates a vacuum at the bottom of the labor market, which draws in new immigrants, currently from Central America. The result is that most farm workers live in very poor and expensive housing until they are beginning to move out of agriculture or up to a better farm job.
To live in federally subsidized housing, farm workers must be legal US residents and obtain at least 51 percent of their annual income from working in agriculture. In some places in Florida, subsidized farm worker housing is empty because there are not enough legal tenants. According to the manager of one Florida farm worker housing complex, 60 percent of those who apply to be tenants cannot prove they are legally in the US. At the housing complex in Homestead, trailers were set up that do not rely on federal subsidies and are rented to non-legal immigrant farm workers.
Florida's farm labor market is unusual in several respects:
o Florida has a November through April season, with employment peaking in January;
o the state's work force has changed since the 1970s, from US-born Blacks and Whites to foreign-born Hispanics. In the early 1990s, Florida's farm workers were estimated to be 50 to 60 percent Mexican and Guatemalan, 20 percent Haitian and 20 to 30 percent US-born Mexican-Americans, Blacks, and whites.
o citrus production and the resulting demand for farm workers has been expanding, especially in the areas of southwestern Florida that have few residents and little infrastructure to build housing.
o there are currently no union contracts covering seasonal workers in Florida agriculture. There was a contract between Coca-Cola (Minute Maid) and the United Farm Workers between 1972 and 1993. The UFW is engaged in a boycott of Quincy Farms' mushrooms, which fired workers from Mexico and El Salvador who participated in a UFW rally in 1996.
Most Florida farm workers are assembled into crews of 20 to 30 by a variety of middlemen, known as crew leaders or farm labor contractors (FLCs). There are 5,000 to 7,000 FLCs and FLC employees in Florida, compared with 1,500 to 2,000 in California.
The major asset of FLCs is their ability to recruit workers. Their legal liability under labor and immigration laws varies from law to law. In most cases, the FLC alone, not the farm owner, is responsible for obeying labor and immigration laws. Since 40 to 50 percent of the workers are illegal, this means that FLCs act as "risk buffers" for growers--the FLC rather than the farm operator is responsible for ensuring that workers are legally authorized to work and the payment of pension, taxes, etc.
When there is enforcement, contractors often go out of business owing back wages to workers and fines for violations. However, so long as there are enough contractors --1,000 to 2,000 enter the business each year in Florida-- and continued immigration, there will be enough farm workers and intermediaries to organize them, so that the fate of any individual FLC is not usually a problem for agricultural production.
In some cases, farmers are jointly liable for violations committed by their contractors, especially if, for example, the farmer prepares workers' checks or helps to supervise workers in the fields. In these cases, enforcement agencies can sue both the FLC and the farmer, and the farmer is ultimately responsible for any fines levied if the FLC has no assets. Farmers often assert that they are not joint employers, so that cases may drag on for years, with workers waiting for unpaid wages. Worker advocates would like farmers to be liable for any violations committed by their FLCs, but have so far been unable to achieve this.
Florida produces most US oranges and expects a record 255 million 90-pound boxes to be harvested in 1997-98; about 95 percent of Florida oranges are processed into orange juice. Florida has about 775,000 acres of oranges, which yield 300 to 400 boxes of oranges an acre. California expects to produce 45 million 75-pound boxes of oranges in 1997-98; most will be sold in the fresh market.
Florida growers receive $5 to $6 per box of oranges, or $0.05 to $0.06 a pound, and workers typically receive about $0.75 for each 90-pound box picked and dumped into a plastic field bin, or less than $0.01 a pound. Workers climb trees that are up to six meters high, hand pick each orange and place the orange into a picking sack, which can weigh 70 to 90 pounds when full. Picking sacks are emptied into field tubs or bins which hold about ten 90-pound boxes or 900 pounds of oranges—depending on how full the worker fills his picking bag or sack, it takes 10 to 15 bags of oranges to fill a field bin/tub. A "goat truck" picks up these 900 pound field bins and dumps them in a trailer, which then hauls the fruit to a concentrate plant.
There are a peak 40,000 to 45,000 hand harvesters employed in Florida citrus, and the average worker picks about nine 90-pound boxes an hour, for hourly earnings of $6.75. An estimated 30 to 50 percent of these orange harvesters may be unauthorized--they present false documents to get jobs. Fearing that enforcement of immigration laws may increase, the citrus industry has launched an effort to develop alternative harvesting methods.
There are two broad approaches to increasing worker productivity or harvesting oranges more cheaply:
1. Harvesting aids, such as hydraulic lifts or "people positioners" to eliminate the ladders and bags that make orange harvesting a job for young men only. The industry has rejected this approach as too costly.
2. Mechanical harvesting systems that remove oranges from trees. Seven different approaches to removing oranges from trees that are being tested. These approaches range from having workers drop fruit as it is picked on the ground, and then using pickup machines to collect the fruit to using machines that grasp the trunk of each tree and shake the fruit off into a catching canopy. One machine has nylon rods attached to rotating drums that are raised into the tree, shaking loose the fruit.
Sugar and H-2
Labor has always been a troublesome issue in sugarcane, which is grown south of Lake Okachobee, the major source of water for the Everglades, generating books and films that include Big Sugar and H-2A Worker.
Land that was worth very little as swamp became valuable farm land after the federal government dammed Lake Okachobee in the 1930s, and the US Army Corps of Engineers created the 714,000-acre Everglades Agricultural Area during World War II. In the mid-1990s, sugar cane was grown on 414,000 acres, winter vegetables on 45,000 acres and sod on 30,000 acres of land just north of the Everglades. These farming activities send phosphorus into the Everglades, which destroys wildlife habitat.
Sugar cane growers found it hard to recruit US workers to hand-harvest the cane in what was an isolated area of southern Florida. After several 1930s convictions for involuntary servitude--recruiting US Blacks in northern cities and holding them in labor camps until they paid off their bus fare and living expenses-- growers switched to imported farm workers from the Caribbean, mostly Jamaicans. These workers were admitted to the US with H-2/H-2A visas for the December-March harvest between 1941 and the mid-1990s, when the harvest was mechanized.
The H-2A program was controversial in southern Florida. About 9,500 H-2 workers were admitted to Florida in the early 1990s to harvest 450,000 acres of sugar cane. They were paid piece rate wages--a fixed sum for each ton of cane cut and laid in rows--but all of them had to work fast enough earn at least as much per hour as a special minimum wage applicable to US and foreign workers employed under the H-2A program, the AEWR, which was $5.30 in 1991.
One illustration of the problems involved recording hours of work. Farm worker advocates argued that employers under reported how many hours were worked to ensure that the workers' hourly earnings were above $5.30. For example, most employers reported that the H-2A workers--who were in the US and living in isolated company-owned camps--worked six hours per day (6 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
Worker advocates argued that the workers were on 24-hour standby and that they worked longer hours than employers reported, which lowered their actual hourly earnings. They won a major settlement against the sugar growers in the early 1990s, which prompted the growers to mechanize the harvest.
There is no limit on the number of H-2A farm workers who can be admitted to the US if the US Department of Labor agrees that (1) the US farmer has made honest efforts to recruit US workers and (2) the presence of the foreign workers will not adversely affect US workers. There were about 20,000 H-2A workers admitted each year in the mid-1980s, and immigration reforms were expected to stop the employment of illegal workers, and increase the number of H-2A workers.
However, the percentage of illegal farm workers roughly doubled from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, from 20 to 40 percent, and the number of H-2A workers has fallen to 10,000. As the share of illegals in the farm work force rises, farmers fearful of a new enforcement effort are seeking an alternative guest worker program that would make it much easier to import legal foreign workers.
In 1997-98, tomato harvesters in southwest Florida went on a widely publicized hunger strike to protest low wages. There are an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 tomato harvesters in the Immokalee area, and six of them began a hunger strike on December 20, 1997 to pressure tomato growers to raise the piece rate wage of $0.40 for each 32-pound bucket of green tomatoes, or about $0.01 a pound of tomatoes picked. Workers reportedly earn $50 to $100 per day, and $9,000 a year. Most farm workers live in private housing, which can be very expensive--mobile homes often rent for $1,000 a month or more.
Workers earn about $0.01 a pound for picking tomatoes, growers receive about $0.36 a pound, and retail tomato prices in the winter months are $1.50 to $2 a pound.
On January 18, 1998, the last three workers ended their 30-day hunger strike after receiving a letter from ex-President Carter, who promised to mediate direct talks between workers and tomato growers. However, growers rejected mediation and there have been no talks.
Immigration and African-Americans
Many articles about Blacks in Miami have titles such as "Lost in the Change," or "Doubly Marginalized or Doubly Disadvantaged," referring to the fact that few Blacks have achieved the economic success of Cubans. Many Blacks leave Miami for opportunity elsewhere in the US because they do not speak Spanish, as required by many local employers. Unemployment in Little Haiti is about 40 percent, and even higher in the African-American neighborhoods of Overtown and Liberty City.
There are several reasons why African-Americans have remained at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder as poorer immigrants--Cubans, Haitians, and Latin Americans--arrived and succeeded. The most common explanation involves economics and culture. The continued arrival of fresh immigrants eager for entry level jobs held wages at minimum levels, $5.15 an hour in 1998, and led many Miami-area employers to prefer immigrants to local African-Americans. Local Black youth, in turn, were frustrated by the choice of dead-end jobs or no jobs, and many became dependent on welfare or involved in crime, which further reduced their opportunities for stable employment.
Many economic analyses and immigrant advocates argue that the continued arrival of immigrants does not adversely affect Blacks. Instead, they point to racism, and argue that even if there were no immigrants, Blacks would be at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. In contrast, some point the finger at the prejudice of Cubans. Portes and Stepick (1993, 197) quote one Black who said it was easier to accept white racism than Cuban racism because "Cubans don't think there is anything wrong with it" [discrimination against Blacks.] In 1987, there were five times as many Cuban-owned than Black owned firms in Miami-Dade county.
Boswell, Thomas D. and James R. Curtis. 1984. The Cuban American Experience.
Dunn, Marvin. 1997. Black Miami in the Twentieth Century. Gainesville. University Press of Florida. Chapter nine considers the effect of recent waves of immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Garcia, Maria Cristina. 1996. Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Grenier, Guillermo J. and Alex Stepick. 1992. Miami Now! Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change. Gainesville. University Press of Florida.
Portes, Alejandro and Robert L. Bach. 1985. Latin Journey: Latin Journey: Cuban and Mexican Immigrants in the United States. Berkeley. University of California Press
Portes, Alejandro and Alex Stepick. 1993. City on the Edge: the Transformation of Miami. Berkeley. University of California Press. This nine chapter book surveys the effects of immigration on Miami during the 1980s.
Portes, Alejandro. 1997. Los Angeles in the context of the new immigration." Newsletter of the Section on International Migration. Vol 4, No. 1
Suro, Roberto. 1998. Strangers Among Us: How Latino Immigration is Transforming America. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/index.html
Immigration and Integration:
Focus on Southern Florida
April 16-19, 1998
DoubleTree Grand Hotel
1717 North Bayshore Drive
Tel (305) 372-0313
Fax (305) 539-9228
with the support of
the German Marshall Fund of the United States
April 9, 1998
The purpose of Migration Dialogue is to promote among opinion leaders an off-the-record discussion of the major immigration and integration issues likely to face the industrial democracies. Three-day seminars are held in places that allow participants during field trips to discuss with immigrants, service providers, and others the day-to-day issues involved in dealing with immigration and integration.
Thursday, April 16, 1998 Arrival Day.
7:00-9:30 PM Welcome Reception/Dinner. Terrace of the Bluewater Bistro (RG level) at the DoubleTree Grand Hotel.
Immigration and Integration in Southern Florida Speaker: Mark Schlakman, Office of the Governor, Florida
Friday, April 17, 1998
7:00-8:30 AM Breakfast outside the Key Biscayne Room, RG Level.
8:30-9:00 AM Welcome and Introductions: Philip Martin, University of California-Davis, Key Biscayne Room
9-10:30AM Cuban, Haitian and Other Immigrants in the U.S. and Miami
Speakers: Max Castro, North-South Center, University of Miami, Alex Stepick, Florida International University
Discussants: Cem Ozdemir, German Bundeshaus, Patrick Weil, C.E.P.I.C., Paris
10:45-11:45PM Planning for Mass Migrations
Moderator: Susan Martin, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University
Speakers: Mark Schlakman, Office of the Governor, Cheryl Little, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Kay Hailbronner, Universitat Konstanz
12PM Depart Hotel for Field Trip with Max Castro, North-South Center
Bilingual education and integration. Coral Way Elementary School, Principal, Migdania Vega. 1950 SW 13th Ave, Miami, FL 33145-2902; (305) 854-0515
1:15PM Lunch with Latin Builders Association. How immigration has shaped Miami, and helped to make Miami the US gateway to Latin America. Roman M. Lannes, 782 N.W. 42 Avenue (Le Jeune Road), Suite 450.
3:15-4:30 Immigrants in the work place; Gator Industries, 1000 S.E. 8th Street, Hialeah (305) 888-5000
4:30-6:00 Tour immigrant neighborhoods: Domino Park, Little Havana
6:00 PM Dinner with Community Leaders
Habana Vieja, 3622 Coral Way (SW 22nd St), Little Havana, (305) 448-6660/6600.
Introductions: Mark Schlakman, Office of the Governor, Florida
9:00 PM Return by taxi to hotel
Saturday, April 18, 1998
7:00-8:30 AM Breakfast outside the Key Biscayne Room, RG Level.
8:30AM Depart Hotel for Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service Agricultural Center, 18710-SW-288 Street (corner of Biscayne Drive and Redland Road), Homestead, Don Pybas, tel 305-248-3311x 241
9:30AM Tour harvesting of vegetables, horticultural items, possibly fish farm; perhaps stop at the Florida State Farmer's Market (300 N. Krome Ave, 305 247-6334, in Florida City)
11AM Lunch and Immigration, Trade, and Agriculture in Florida
Moderator: Philip Martin, University of California, Davis
Speakers: Don Pybas, Dade County Extension, Ralph Iori, Sr., Diamond I Farms, Galen Brown, Florida Citrus Mutual, Bob Jensen, First National Bank
12:30PM Tour farm worker housing, ECA, Steve Kirk, Everglades Community Association, (305)-242-2142, Arturo Lopez, COFFO
1:30PM Walking tour of Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park; 305 242-7700
2:30PM Depart for Krome Detention Center
3:30PM Briefing and tour of Krome Detention Center, Krome Avenue/Tamiami Trail, Leroy Fredrick, 305-552-1845x112 or x184
5PM Depart for hotel, arrive 6PM
6:45 PM Bus to Monty's Restaurant, 300 Alton Road, Miami Beach Marina (tel 305 673-3444). A 10 to 15 minute walk or two-minute cab ride from Monty's to South Beach/Art Deco district or return to hotel by taxi.
Sunday, April 19, 1998
7:00-8:30 AM Breakfast outside the Key Biscayne Room, RG Level.
8:30AM Bus leaves for Notre Dame d'Haiti, 110 NE 62nd Street, 305 751-6289
9:00-10:30 AM Church Service, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Haitian Catholic Services
10:45AM Depart Church for Tap-Tap Restaurant
11AM-12:30PM Immigration and African Americans
Moderator: Elizabeth Midgley, Working English
Speakers: Gerald Jaynes, Yale University
Discussants: Zair Kedadouche, France, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Haitian Catholic Services
12:30-2:30PM Lunch: Tap Tap Haitian Restaurant, 819 5th St., 305 672-2898.
2:30PM Bus departs for airport; arrives 3pm. Planes to Europe leave at about 4pm