Agriculture Worker Exodus in Florida Blamed on Immigration Bills

TAMPA - Mayro Calo has seen a mass exodus of illegal immigrants, heading back to their country, most of them from Mexico.

"People are giving up and returning to their country. Which, I guess, is the purpose of the law and the system," Calo said.

Calo has been an immigration attorney for years. But in the last year, her caseload decreased by nearly 300. She believes it's, in part, because of the immigration law proposals making their way through Tallahassee.

"Everything is just pass it, pass it...quick, quick, quick. And not asking if they really should," she said.

You can see the impact in the fields. At Hunsader Farms, crews would be swarming the vines, picking tomatoes.

"Other years we had over 200 people picking. This year we have about 75," he said.
David Hunsader says part of the decrease in manpower in blamed on blueberries. There are more of those growers and the pay is more.

But part of the blame is also being laid on the steps of Florida's Capitol.

Hunsader has been left to open his fields to customers for U-Pick. They get a bucket of tomatoes for $1.

Hunsader would normally get $12-$14 a box at the market.

Protests urging legislators to reconsider have been a daily event in Tallahassee.

And a national Latino civil rights group is considering a boycott on the state, depending on the final vote.

For more reporting from Tampa Bay see

Follow us on
Like us at