As the U.S. House of Representatives takes up immigration changes that could make farm labor harder to find, American Farm Bureau Federation is asking for reform first and urging citizens to learn the positive impact immigrants have in their state. On Thursday, AFBF tweeted a link to an interactive map by Partnership for a New American Economy showing the impact of immigrants in individual states.
“The House Judiciary Committee is poised to pass a series of immigration bills that focus exclusively on enforcement, which would be devastating to agriculture and the rural economies it supports,” American Farm Bureau Federation warned in a statement. “A Farm Bureau-commissioned study released in February 2014 showed that labor shortages resulting from enforcement-only reform would cause production to fall by $30 billion-$60 billion, while food prices would climb by 5-6 percent.”
On Tuesday, a House committee passed H.R. 1147, the Legal Workforce Act, which would require employers to check the status of all workers through the e-Verify system, which uses Social Security and Homeland Security records to confirm whether a person can legally work in the U.S.
Agribusiness groups have argued that before requiring E-Verify, Congress should expand the guestworker program. Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., said that the committee would consider a separate agricultural guestworker bill “as soon as possible.”