Potential Immigration Policy changes could affect blueberry workers

DEBLOIS, Maine. (WABI) - Each year, millions of pounds of blueberries are harvested in Maine and land on our store shelves.

It takes a lot of workers to get them there. An elimination of a current immigration policy could potentially affect migrant employees at Wyman's.

Two years that's how long it takes for Wyman's blueberry crops to be ready for harvesting. A job so big, we're told on top of their nearly 200 full-time employees, they bring in an additional 300 more for help.

April Norton Wyman’s Director of Human Resources said, "We have about 5,000 acres per year that we harvest, and then when everything starts to come ripe at the same time, that's a lot of fruit to bring in the door in a short period of time."

We're told most of their workforce for the harvest season is made up of migrant workers.

Norton explained, "I would not be able to pull enough from Maine, let alone Washington County Maine, I would not be able to pull enough work for us to bring this harvest in every year without those migrant workers."

If anything happens to a certain section of federal immigration law that raises concerns for Wyman’s and its migrant workers.

"How we are impacted is through the Temporary Protective Status, TPS, which is on the table to be eliminated. If the program is eliminated, we would lose not only seasonal workers, but we've been
Impacted on a full-time basis. I have seven full-time employees who have made their life here. They've been with our company from 2 to 18 years under this program."

Director of Human Resources April Norton said a change in law could affect not only their workforce but family's lives.

"It will have a huge impact on those people having to go back to a country where there is no employment and extremely high crime rates,” Norton said.

Norton said every worker is more than just an employee. She explained, "Our children all go to school together. These people are part of our everyday life at Wyman's, so it's more than just losing a good worker. It's losing somebody from our community as well."