Immigrant laborers play a major role on bringing food from the field to the table. These individuals play an essential role in the growing, treatment, harvesting and transportation of America’s food supplies. White house figures state that U.S. agriculture employs approximately 3 million individuals across various states and the net farm income is expected to hit $128.2 billion dollars.
A recent official white house release states that the current immigration systems does not adequately support a both predictable and reliable workforce and that furthermore there are not enough U.S. born workers to fill these growing labor demands, with only approximately 71% of these workers being U.S. born.
A recent study examined the demographic characteristics of the agricultural labor force and found that approximately 60% of the U.S. non-citizen farmworkers are unauthorized. Agricultural labor shortages have been on the rise for the past five years due to restrictive measures against unauthorized workers were passed in various states. Currently, agricultural shortages have increased significantly and is seen especially in the areas of growing and packing. Growers are experiencing labor shortages and producers and processors have experienced loss in income due to the shortages.
When the question of “what would happen if the unauthorized agricultural workforce were reduced or made available” is posited, White House projections answer stating that either scenario would result in economic loss to the agricultural industry. Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) would greatly improve the current state of the agricultural industry. It would stabilize the industry by providing:
- A pathway to permanent residency (with eventual citizenship).
- Creating two new temporary visa programs for foreign workers.
These two actions would serve to boost individual laborer wages, increase fruit output, grow fruit & vegetable exports. CIR will not only quantitatively benefit the nation but would also provide a vehicle for laborers to improve their English allowing them to gain access to better employment. Also, it is a form of protection from negative situations undocumented workers experience including explotation, unsafe working conditions, human trafficking amongst other pejorative circumstances.
On the other side of the table the nation’s farms and consumers would get to enjoy the benefits of CIR including a stable agricultural workforce. CIR helps the agricultural industry and the agricultural industry is vital to the success of our nation
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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