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A Labor Department plan would make it harder for farmers to hire immigrants
|Read AFP’s Sam Peak’s the article here or experts below.|
With grocery prices soaring by more than 13% in the year ending last month, families across America are having trouble putting food on the table. But the Labor Department threatens to make things worse with a new regulation.
One reason for the surging food prices has been a dwindling agricultural workforce. With many Americans leaving rural communities or not seeking seasonal agricultural jobs, farmers are struggling to find workers. In Idaho in 2019 only five people applied for more than 1,000 open agricultural positions offering roughly double the minimum wage.
For years, immigrants have helped keep food abundant and affordable by moving to areas where farmers need help. But with the loss of two million working-age immigrants owing to pandemic restrictions on visa processing, the entire food industry faces more job vacancies than any other sector. And although a recent Texas A&M report found that increasing the number of immigrant farm workers can reduce food prices and raise wages, the Biden administration is poised to add hurdles to the H-2A program, the visa that American farmers rely on when they can’t find enough workers.
Rather than protecting Americans, the proposed H-2A rule will create barriers that harm U.S. and foreign workers alike. As many as 75% of U.S. agricultural workers lack legal status, while only 10% are working under the H-2A program. The regulatory burdens have led to a black market of illegal immigration in the agricultural sector, undermining U.S. working conditions and border security.
If President Biden hopes to reduce inflation and restore accountability to our immigration system, he should reverse the Labor Department’s H-2A rule and support the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, currently being negotiated in the Senate. Passage would eliminate administrative redundancies by allowing farmers to send their paperwork to all the relevant agencies through a single platform. The bill also would let farmers hire H-2A workers with multiple start dates and create opportunities for year-round industries such as dairy and pork.
Amid soaring food prices and border crossings, both parties should treat immigration as an opportunity to be harnessed rather than a problem to be managed.
Mr. Peak is an immigration policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity.
Read the entire article here
For interviews with a Sam Peak, please contact Wadi Gaitan at (301) 356-2911.