To conservatives, immigration reform means protecting the borders and taxpayer money. Farmers, however, see a different side of the issue: without the help of immigrant workers, much of the harvest — and, therefore, profits — would be lost for lack of manpower.

Farmers are banding together to fight a GOP proposal, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), that would require that they and other employers verify the legality of an employee's immigration status before they begin work, the New York Times reported.

The new law would require that employers check all new hires against the E-Verify database, run by the Department of Homeland Security, to single out illegal immigrants.

George Bonacich, an 81-year-old California apricot farmer, told the Times that the low-wage immigrant workers he uses are "good people, hard-working," and that the $390 billion farming industry would be in trouble if the proposal were to become reality.

“If we don’t have enough labor at peak time, the fruit goes on the ground,” he said. “The fruit will only stay on the tree so long.”

Creative Commons image via IRRI Images.