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Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California — the nation's leading grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — fear an even greater labor shortage under President Barack Obama's executive action to block some 5 million people from deportation. Thousands of the state's farm workers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms.

"This action isn't going to bring new workers to agriculture," said Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel of the powerful trade association Western Growers. "It's possible that because of this action, agriculture will lose workers without any mechanism to bring in new workers."

Although details of the president's immigration policy have yet to be worked out, Resnick said the agricultural workforce has been declining for a decade. Today, the association estimates there is a 15 to 20 percent shortage of farmworkers, which is driving the industry to call for substantial immigration reform from Congress, such as a sound guest worker program. "Hopefully there will be the opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform," said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. "That's the right thing to do for this country." California's 330,000 farmworkers account for the largest share of the 2.1 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas comes in a distant second with less than half of California's farmworkers. Once Obama's executive action starts going into effect next year, it will protect the parents of legal U.S. residents from deportation and expand a 2012 program that shields from deportation people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.




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Yesterday I appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show to discuss several issues related to the New Jersey state pension system, including pay-to-play allegations and the recent resignation of investment chief Bob Grady. Near the end of the interview, Lehrer asked if I agreed with my fellow guest — David Sirota of the International Business Times — that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have difficulty raising presidential campaign donations from Wall Street investment firms and their executives (assuming, of course, that he decides to run).

I said that I did, based on Securities and Exchange Commission pay-to-play rules. Lehrer then tweeted out: Some listeners emailed to ask why this would be the case, given that presidential campaign contributions would go to a federally-focused political committee, as opposed to the state-focused committee where Christie could have influence over pension investments. Moreover, the contributions would, in effect, be aimed at relocating Christie from Trenton to Washington, D.C.

The answer can be found in a lengthy document published by the SEC, which foresaw such a scenario. It says:  “ Under our rule, as proposed, a candidate for federal office could be an “official” under the rule not because of the office he or she is running for, but as a result of an office he or she currently holds.150 So long as an official has influence over the hiring of investment advisers as a function of his or her current office, contributions by an adviser could have the same effect, regardless to which of the official’s campaigns the adviser contributes. For that reason, we are not persuaded that an incumbent state or local official should be excluded from the definition solely because he or she is running for federal office.

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