Speed Reads

Trump v Immigration

Farmers are pushing lawmakers to temper Trump's immigration crackdown

America's agricultural sector uses more undocumented immigrant labor than any other U.S. industry, Pew Research Center has found, and The Associated Press estimates that about 46 percent of America's 800,000 crop farmworkers are working in the U.S. illegally, citing federal data. Farmers say that American citizens typically have neither the skills nor dedication to do farm labor in sufficient numbers, and some research backs that up.

Worrying about the perceived uptick in immigration raids on farmworkers under President Trump and the very real fear that has engendered in the immigrant community, farmers have begun lobbying their representatives in Congress and local politicians to deal with immigration in a manner that doesn't jeopardize America's farms, AP reports. Even Republican farmers who support Trump and favor more immigration restrictions say otherwise law-abiding immigrant farm workers should be shown clemency.

And if mercy doesn't work, agriculture interests are pointing to the hard costs of deporting immigration laborers. The American Farm Bureau Federation says that food prices would go up 5-6 percent under strict immigration enforcement, and the National Milk Producers Federation predicted this month that milk prices could rise to $8 a gallon, from about $3.30 a gallon today. About 79 percent of dairy farms employ immigrants, a 2015 Texas A&M study found, and 71 percent of dairy farm owners have low to medium confidence that the employment documents their immigrant laborers provide is valid.

In the meantime, farm owners are warning their farmworkers to be careful and attending immigration rights workshops. You can get a sense of how Trump's perceived crackdown is affecting vineyards and plant nurseries in Oregon in the AP video below. Peter Weber