On Tuesday, President Donald Trump clarified what he called a "temporary suspension of immigration into the United States." Trump said the executive order he plans to sign would apply only to those seeking permanent residency and not to temporary workers.
Trump said he would be placing a 60-day pause on the issuance of green cards in an effort to limit competition for jobs in a U.S. economy wrecked by the coronavirus. But he said there would be “certain exemptions” included in the order, which staff were still crafting Tuesday.
The California Farm Bureau Federation has confirmed this ban would not apply to H2A/B employees, which is what the California agricultural community relies upon for workers, according to the San Diego County Farm Bureau.
"We've got a good working relationship with the administration," said Ken Melban, the California Avocado Commission Vice President of Industry Affairs. "They understand how critical it is that we have this farm labor supply and so we're working hand in glove with them."
Melban said laborers coming from another country are hired through a work permit and that these workers should be exempt from the president's order.
"That is our hope: that we would continue to have and maintain a viable workforce," Melban said.
Melban said this is a record avocado harvest season, and while demand for produce has gone down from food services, it's on the rise for consumers.
"We're seeing the demand stay strong," Melban said. "Last week we harvested 16 million pounds, so it's a tremendous amount of volume."
During this time, farm laborers are in demand across the country and are also deemed essential workers.
"Farmers are very resilient," Melban said. "Avocado farmers are especially very resilient -- they've weathered challenges before. None quite like this, but I'm very confident that the California avocado farmer will remain very strong."