The results of this analysis suggest that the enforcement-only option would have a significant disruptive impact on agriculture, leading to large enough losses in farm income by the end of a 5-year implementation and adaptation period to trigger a large scale restructuring of the sector, higher food prices, and greater dependence on imported products. This assumes a best-case reform path for this most disruptive alternative, with implementation of 2013/14 legislation assumed to stretch out over 2015-2017 followed by 2 added years of farm adaptation to arrive at a tentative post-reform equilibrium in 2020. Any faster implementation or shorter adoption period would exacerbate
the sector’s adjustment problem
s and worsen impacts on farm output, commodity prices, farm income, farm asset values, and food prices. The second reform alternative
enforcement plus a pathway to legalization--is only slightly less disruptive because of a
special role as a major entry point for new undocumented workers and undocumented workers
strong tendency to move out of agriculture to higher- preference jobs elsewhere in the economy as soon as possible. The impact of the third alternative
enforcement plus pathway to legalization plus guest worker program-- depends on the design of the agricultural guest worker program. In summary, this report concludes both that immigration reform is one of the most important challenges facing American agriculture and that the potential impact of reform on the workings of the agricultural sector can provide policy makers with a microcosmic view of the full range of economic, political, and social concerns at work nationally.
The current reform debate in Congress is the latest,
most concerted effort to “fix”
a widely acknowledged to be a broken U.S. immigration system. The system includes federal legislation but also a myriad of other related federal, state, and local laws, administrative orders, and regulations. The extent to which the system is broken is reflected in:
The large number of undocumented workers entering/reentering the U.S. with relative ease despite more and increasingly costly border protection measures and enforcement
efforts to identify and deport “
” found within the
country. Estimates vary but point to roughly 11 million undocumented individuals in the country currently with an added 4.5 million citizen-children (See Appendix 1);
The extent to which employers must rely on undocumented workers, who hold up to 5 percent of the jobs in the U.S. labor market, despite continued high unemployment rates for local workers; and
The impact on rural and urban communities already struggling to accommodate unprecedented demographic changes and their social, political, and economic implications now face the challenge of integrating large numbers of undocumented workers and their families.