PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The impact of immigration on the economy was the topic of a forum on Long Island this week.
A strong Long Island economy is dependent on a immigrant workforce, according to Joe Gergela of the Long Island Farm Bureau.
He and other business leaders are calling for comprehensive immigration reform for economic and moral reasons.
“Not fair for people who have separated families and the impact on that. It’s time to get this done,” he told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs at a Patchogue church on Monday.
Gergela estimates Long Island’s agricultural workforce may be 60 percent undocumented, but necessary, he added.
He said they employ between 7,000 and 8,000 people and without a reliable legal labor supply going forward, they’ll be in trouble harvesting crops and getting things grown.
“We depend upon a foreign workforce, but we want a good legal system,” he said. “People should be able to go to and from our country.”
Now, say these business leaders, is the time to achieve it.
“There’s a lot riding on this issue,” Gergela said.