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Last Saturday, thousands of people descended on a vast field in Nyssa, Oregon, knives in hand. They had been summoned by a viral video on TikTok, writes reporter Orion Donovan-Smith of The Spokesman-Review. “If you want to know what 350,000 pounds of wasted food looks like, let me show you,” Shay Myers told his followers in the video, which by then had been viewed 2.7 million times.

Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce, a family farm with fields on both sides of the Snake River in Idaho and Oregon, stood amid what he said was 35 acres of asparagus that wouldn’t be harvested because the visas he had requested for migrant farm workers had been delayed and he couldn’t find enough local workers, despite paying $16 an hour.

“We can’t get the labor,” he said. “What we usually do is bring people on an H-2A visa, but the border is so freakin’ screwed up that they can’t get people across, so we’re 30 days late. They’re telling us another 30 to 45 days before we have any laborers to pick this crop.”

Frustrated after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, told him the workers would arrive at least two months late, Myers decided to turn the loss into a learning experience. He invited his followers to come and take up to 100 pounds of asparagus for free. By midday Saturday, he estimated about 3,000 people had shown up.

“This was a $12,000-an-acre investment in this crop here,” Myers said in another video, posted on LinkedIn. “How do we make that kind of investment and then wonder if a bureaucratic hiccup is going to prevent us from harvesting this crop?”

Northwest Republicans emerge as leaders in reform effortThe last major overhaul of U.S. immigration law came 35 years ago. Employers, immigrant rights groups and a bipartisan coalition in Congress say an update is long overdue, but reaching the 60 votes required to get most legislation through the evenly divided Senate will take significant support from a Republican Party that’s of two minds on immigration.

The fate of immigration reform in the GOP, and in Congress, lies largely with two Republicans from the Inland Northwest, Central Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

You can read Donovan-Smith's full in-depth story online here (subscription required), or pick up Saturday's print edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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