Most economic experts say that without migrant agricultural workers the US economy would take a major hit. In fact, in acknowledgment of this reality bipartisan members of Congress have worked together to forge a bill called The Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security (AgJOBS) Act. This bill has been designed to be a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform as it relates to agricultural workers. It deals with reforming the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. Here are a few facts about the migrant agricultural workers and the critical role they play in the nation’s economy.
Fact: Agricultural workers support the $985 billion agricultural industry.
Some studies show that the agricultural workers contribute $23.3 million to the economy of Michigan alone. Their financial impact on the US economy as a whole runs into the billions.
Fact: Most farm workers are not authorized to work legally in the U.S
In a National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) conducted in 2002, 53% of all seasonal agricultural workers admitted they were not authorized to work in the U.S. However, presently it is believed that as many 75% of agricultural workers are undocumented.
Fact: A large unauthorized workforce is bad for workers and for growers.
Intermittent worksite raids, immigration audits and investigations, Social Security Administration (SSA) “No-Match” letters, and other immigration-enforcement activities slow down production at farms. This is bad for both growers and workers. The solution lies in legislation such as the (AgJOBS) Act.
Fact: Continued “deportation-only” policies without meaningful reform will cripple the agricultural sector:
According to the Farm Credit Associations of New York, a severe and prolonged disruption in labor would be the result of enhanced “deport only” policies. Additionally, more than 800 farms in New York alone would be out of business if this policy was fully implemented.
Fact: Native-born workers are not filling agricultural jobs:
As the native-born population in the US is growing older and better educated, few people aspire to work on farms. Moreover, studies show that immigrants who do work on farm usually have several years of experience in the area. Thus, there is no learning curve for them to overcome.
Migrant workers face risks to their fundamental freedoms on a daily basis. However, this does not stop many of them from seeking to support their dream of becoming citizens by doing hard, grueling work on the farms and in fields. As an immigration attorney in Ventura County, I use my experience and skills to make this dream a reality for many on a daily basis. Immigrant rights in Los Angeles is my passion and my specialty. Call me if you wish to speak to someone about your case.