How has illegal immigration influenced agriculture and what would happen if the immigrants were removed?

Agriculture has greatly been influenced by illegal immigrant workers. According to southwestfarmpress.com, of the 1.6 million farm workers in the United States, seventy percent of them are illegal immigrants. The amount of illegal immigrants working in agriculture has greatly increased. Beginning at only seven percent in 1989, it rose to thirty-four percent in 1994 and is around seventy percent now. Even industries, such as dairy farms, require immigrant workers. California, the largest dairy production state in the nation, relies heavily on immigrant workers to milk the cows.

But what would happen if illegal immigrants were removed from the workforce? There would be a great drop in the supply of labor. The supply curve would be shifted to the left and the equilibrium would be at a higher point. There would be less labor for a higher wage. Due to the loss of workers, the amount of products, such as vegetables, milk, fruits, etc., would decrease. Since the supply of these products decreased, but the demand for them would stay the same, the equilibrium point in the market would also increase. Fruits and vegetables would have to be sold at a higher price to still make a profit.

If farming companies could find a way to sneak in illegal immigrants, they would have an unfair advantage. They could regain the low cost of labor shifting both supply curves to the right. This would lower the equilibrium point, making their products cost less. In essence they could run a monopoly or oligopoly and drive out their competitors who abide by the rules and use nonimmigrant labor. They could monopolize their market after and charge a high price for their products because fruits and vegetables are essential. People need to eat then to be healthy, so having a monopoly over then could be very disastrous, which shows our need for immigrant workers.

Of course, this research brings up some new questions. How has illegal immigration influenced other industries, such as construction and hospitality? What would happen if the illegal immigrants were removed from these industries? What ways would companies be able to get illegal immigrants without being caught? How can we prevent these monopolies and increasing prices if illegal immigrants were removed from these industries?

Sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-03-29-immigration-debate_x.htm

http://southwestfarmpress.com/government/immigration-reform-vital-u-s-agriculture

http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2009/05/27/got-milk-not-without-immigrants/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5312900

 

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About nicholas71

Hey Ms. Muntz, I thought the only way you would remember I am is if you saw me sleeping :)
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One Response to How has illegal immigration influenced agriculture and what would happen if the immigrants were removed?

  1. m muntz says:

    They would not need to form a monopoly or cartel to artificially raise prices because they would be cutting labor costs. They would be able to outsell the competition in a price war, and so would be breaking the law in terms of illegal workers, but would be doing so in the name of freer trade.
    I appreciate your attempt to explain it in terms of supply and demand, however I think you got some of the concepts backwards.
    8.5/10

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