California’s agriculture has long relied on illegal immigrant labor to lower costs. And for the most part, politicians have looked in the other direction.
Now, the chickens are coming home to roost in a major way.
According to Fortune, the California vegetable industry is suffering thanks to a labor shortage of migrant workers, likely due to both deportations and illegal immigrants leaving for Mexico now that Trump is president.
“Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked,” Fortune reported.
“Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.
“The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico … To make the jobs more attractive, farmers are offering salaries above minimum wage, along with paid time off and 401(k) plans, but even that’s not proving enough.”
It’s not just deportations that are affecting the industry, either. Even before the Trump administration came into office, a Pew Research survey found that 140,000 Mexicans left to return to their home country from 2009 to 2014.
One would imagine that trend has intensified now that President Trump is in the White House.
“It’s unclear exactly how widespread the labor shortage is for farmers throughout the country, which would have a bigger impact on prices consumers pay,” Fortune reported.
“Ultimately, drought and flooding have a more significant impact on farms. Low oil prices could also offset any impact of the worker shortage.”
While liberals might point to this and say it’s why we need illegal immigration, this ignores what should be the key takeaway from the news: The fact that California has relied for so long on cheap illegal immigrant labor instead of hiring American citizens.
This may result in lower vegetable costs, sure. At what cost to America, however?
Between lost tax revenue, lost money for American workers, remittances that take wages out of the U.S. economy and the other taxpayer costs of illegal immigration — estimated to be $134.9 billion annually by the Federation for American Immigration Reform — we pay quite a bit to subsidize cheap labor for the vegetable industry.
The fact that California’s growers apparently didn’t know this day was coming indicates just how reliant they were on politicians to continue a laissez faire attitude toward illegal aliens working, on the basis that they were “working in jobs nobody wants.”
And yet, now they’re offering over minimum wage with 401(k) benefits and paid time off — jobs some individuals would clearly want. This is the great lie that has been fed to us about illegal immigration to keep us subsidizing whole industries.
It may take some time to adjust, which is understandable. However, the adjustment likely will happen, as it will in other industries that rely on illegal immigrant labor to function. In the long run, President Trump and the Republicans are betting, it will work out better for the American economy. We’ll certainly see what happens.
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