Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 8, 2007

Migrant workers labor in grape harvest


Stories Guillen and Magana tell ring true for other local immigrant families.

Juana Moreno and her family couldn't find work in Mexico or Texas, so they moved to Leelanau County more than 10 years ago, she said while picking grapes last week.

Moreno works with her husband and son at Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery, where she said documented immigrant families like hers help maintain a stable workforce for local growers amid contentious national debate over immigration issues.

She's seen many scared migrants leave the area for Mexico or other states and not return, but there have been enough documented immigrants to work at the winery, she said.

Area growers have also said they haven't had serious difficulty in securing sufficient labor.

"A lot of those people are U.S. citizens, have been for a long time," said Larry Mawby, owner of L. Mawby Vineyards in Suttons Bay. "It's not an immigration issue. There are certainly some migrants around the country where there is an immigration issue, but I don't know specifically of any in this area."

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