Friday, January 06, 2017

Trump's pledge to deport undocumented workers could lead to a labor shortage in agriculture

In California, the nation's top agriculture state, concern is growing that if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on plans to deport undocumented workers there will be a shortage of farm labor, reports Scott Smith of The Associated Press. Many of the back-breaking farm jobs held by undocumented workers are ones Americans refuse to take.

Some leaders in the industry are "calling on congressional representatives to educate the incoming president on the workforce it takes to feed the country and they’re assuring workers they’ll protect them," Smith reports.

Undocumented workers also are concerned for their safety. Leticia Alfaro, a farm food-safety supervisor told Smith "that many of her friends who work in the fields don’t have proper documentation like her, and they take Trump’s threats seriously." She said "they fear being deported and torn from their children who were born here. After Trump takes office, they wonder if it will be safe to make a simple trip to the grocery store, fearing checkpoints where they’ll be pulled over and have to show their documentation." (CNN graphic: Industries with most undocumented workers)
Fear is growing in other states, such as Texas, Florida and Georgia, that have large migrant communities working in agriculture, AP reports. "The fear stems from Trump’s campaign rallies, where he received a rousing response each time he vowed to deport people who are in the country illegally—up to 11 million. That position softened after Trump won the election, when he said he’d start with 3 million with criminal records."

"Some farmers point to Trump’s post-election shift as a sign his campaign bluster won’t become reality," the story says. "He is, after all, a businessman like them, they say. But others believe this shift underscores the president-elect’s unpredictable nature." Joe Garcia, a farm-labor contractor in California who hires up to 4,000 people each year to pick grapes from Napa to Bakersfield and along the Central Coast, told AP, “Our workers are scared. If they’re concerned, we’re concerned.” (Read more)

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