There are two vastly different immigration crises playing out currently in the United States. On the one hand there are the Republicans who say too many immigrants are coming over the border and they need to be sent back or bussed out, and on the other, there are the farmers who say there is a major labor shortage, and they need immigrant laborers.
The irony is what many advocates like me have said for decades now—the same Americans who are against immigration and against immigrants coming over the border, do not want the jobs many immigrants are willing to take.
The result is the current labor shortage which has been exacerbated by the pandemic and is now resulting in higher food prices by more than 10% from last year or empty store shelves for some consumers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is beaming as he buses immigrants out to other cities to score political points, farmers in his own state are hurting and can’t fill jobs.
This has caused the U.S. to be now experiencing the highest 12-month increase in food prices since May 1979, according to the consumer price index. A 2022 Texas A&M University study commissioned by the American Business Coalition, a bipartisan group of 1,200 business leaders who advocate for immigration reform, found that having more migrant and H-2A workers was related to lower inflation, higher average wages and lower unemployment.
The study also found that “more denied petitions for naturalizations are associated with larger consumer prices and higher inflation.”
This can easily be resolved for the good of all beginning with the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which is pending in the Senate after having already passed the House. This measure will provide farmers with a stable reliable workforce by creating a path to citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers and reforming the seasonal farmworker visa program.
It also would establish a certified agricultural worker (CAW) status and change the H-2A temporary worker program.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be allowed to grant CAW status to an applying alien who: (1) performed at least 1,035 hours of agricultural labor during the two-year period prior to March 8, 2021; (2) on that date was inadmissible, deportable, or under a grant of deferred enforced departure or temporary protected status; and (3) has been continuously present in the United States from that date until receiving CAW status. DHS may also grant dependent status to the spouse or children of the migrant. It also authorizes the Department of Agriculture to provide various assistance, including funding for insuring loans and grants for new farmworker housing.
The bill also imposes additional crime-related inadmissibility grounds on CAW applicants and makes some other grounds inapplicable, but an immigrant with a pending application may not be detained or removed by DHS and shall be authorized for employment until DHS makes a final decision on the application.
This makes it a great solution, but of course it’s still lagging in the Senate as Republicans prefer to play politics with immigration rather than find rational solutions. As such, we all are now paying the price literally!
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.