Illegal immigrants working on Mid-Michigan farms - WNEM TV 5

Illegal immigrants working on Mid-Michigan farms

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TUSCOLA COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

More than 130,000 undocumented immigrants live in Michigan, many of which call Mid-Michigan their home.

The issue is coming to the forefront after a local woman was sentenced to federal prison for her role in helping immigrants get jobs at farms throughout the Thumb.

"In my opinion, illegal immigrants - that's the problem. The word illegal. If they come here legally I think it's a wonderful thing," said Jim Matuszack, Tuscola County resident.

He has been a farmer in Tuscola County for the past 40 years. He said he's had no difficulty finding legal workers to help him on his farm.

"Some people are coming from Texas and stuff, but they were legally here and I had no trouble hiring them," Matuszack said.

However, that doesn't seem to be the case at all farms in the Thumb area.

One woman was sentenced this week in federal court after she helped place illegal immigrants at daily farms in Tuscola and Huron County.

In September, a pair of dairy farmers in Cass City were charged with hiring and housing illegal workers.

Law enforcement in Huron County said farmers tell them it's difficult to find local people who want to do the work. Matuszack isn't buying it.

"Well, that's been some of the discussion that no one wants the work, but I think that's a myth because I think people are looking for work," Matuszack said.

After four decades on the job, Matuszack said he doesn't believe area farms are that desperate for workers. He said despite the lower wages, he can't find a reason to hire immigrants who aren't here legally.

"I just don't think it should be with the word illegal. I mean, what part of that doesn't these farmers get," he said.

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