January 9, 2011 4 Comments
As the illegal immigration issue continues to heat up, my economist side keeps on lingering in my thoughts. Many illegal immigrant workers are employed by farms in states close the Mexican border. These workers are usually underpaid, their salaries are somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 per day. Competition from Latin American crop producers is also an issue; tariffs do not seem to stop foreign products from making it into the US market.
Although I am not in favor of illegal immigration, our economy needs the human resources provided by illegal immigrants. A massive deportation is not the answer to the current economical downturn. As the unemployment keeps on rising, more and more attention is being paid to illegal workers. We did not pay much attention to illegal immigrants during the “dot-com” era, but since jobs are now scarce, it is only natural to put our eyes on illegal workers.
Now the question is: are we Americans willing to take their jobs for the same pay? There may be a small group that may be willing to do so, but I do not think this small group will fulfill the demand for farm workers. Higher salaries would be required in order to draw Americans to the farming fields and hence crop prices would soar. If prices soar, competition from outside the US would have an advantage over our produce and the demand for US grown products would fall. Under this scenario we would lose jobs to foreign competition.
It is true that not all immigrants are hard workers but, farm workers have demonstrated over and over how valuable they are to our economy. We cannot punish these people for the wrongdoings of others. We need to put an immigrant farm worker program in place in order to keep our crop prices low and in order to compete with foreign grown produce.
I am sure many will not agree with me but I am personally not willing to pay more for produce. Are you?