A recent article from Fox News Latino details the concerns of the agricultural industry regarding the President’s executive action on immigration. The president’s announced expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and creation of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) is estimated to provide deportation defense and work authorization for 4-5 million people currently in the U.S. without lawful status.
DACA will provide work permits and protection from deportation for many who are in the U.S. without status, who have been in the U.S. for more than five years, who entered before they turned 16 years old and have a minor or no criminal record.
DAPA will provide work permits and protection from deportation for many in the U.S. without status, who have been in the U.S. for more than five years, who have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child and have a minor or no criminal records.
Many of the people who will benefit from this program are currently working in the U.S., even without authorization.
California’s 330,000 farmworkers account for the largest share of the 2.1 million nationwide (an estimated 85% are working with false, fraudulent or no immigration documentation). . . 50,000 of the state’s farmworkers who may benefit from the president’s executive action could leave the fields and packing houses in California’s $46.4 billion agricultural industry.
Farmers fear that losing 50,000 trained and experienced farmworkers in a short period of time will lead to many consequences. One of the major ones will be a rise in the cost of agriculture products. If there is a greatly reduced or no workforce to harvest the product, supply will shrink and costs will rise. In order to replace the thousands of workers expected to move on to full-time, year-round employment, farmers may be forced to greatly increase the amount of money they pay to find skilled and experienced farmworkers. Either way, the costs of agricultures products will likely increase.
Many proponents of immigration reform say that if the U.S. were to deport all 11 million people who are here without status, industries, like agriculture, would be destroyed because they would lose the vast majority of their workforce. Others say the industry wouldn’t collapse, but consumers would simply pay more for the products.
Now we see that passing immigration reform appears to have similar effects on agriculture as deporting everyone. This is probably why our country has remained in the “status quo” for so many years. Some parts of immigration reform appear to hurt some industries while helping individuals, while mass deportations appear to help some politicians and funding for government agencies, while hurting individuals.
John Gihon is an immigration and criminal defense attorney with the law offices of Shorstein, Lasnetski and Gihon (offices in Jacksonville and Orlando). John is a former Senior Attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a state prosecutor.