Immigration and migration policy propoal's impact beyond farm labor markets across the United States
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Most agricultural workers in the United States are from Latin America. The National Agricultural Workers Survey suggests 69 [percent] of hired workers on U.S. farms are born in Mexico. More than half of these same farm workers indicated they do not have legal work authorization. Economists have long suggested immigrants who lack legal work authorization are over represented in agricultural employment because they are more willing to accept the pay and work conditions associated with farm work, than their legally authorized peers. Recent trends in the agricultural labor market, however, seem to suggest that the share of unauthorized hired farm workers may be decreasing. This trend is implicit in the rapid growth of the H-2A guest workers program, a federal program that allows agricultural employers to bring in foreign workers on a seasonal basis. Although in recent years the H-2A program has garnered considerable interest from policy makers, agricultural employers, and researchers, few quantitative studies examine how the program along with other immigration policies, impact farm labor markets across the U.S. This paper presents preliminary findings from a quantitative model estimating farm labor supply elasticities across the continental United States. The following immigration related policy proposals are controlled for within this model: raising of the AEWR (the adverse effect wage rate paid to H-2A workers); restructuration or discontinuation of the H-2A guest workers program; amnesty for currently unauthorized workers; and disruption of immigration and migration flows from increased immigration control and/or security along the U.S.-Mexico border). This model was developed to inform rural community leaders, agribusiness stakeholders, and public policy makers regarding the potential effects of the H-2A program and other immigration control policies on farm labor management.
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