wheatfieldThe New York Times, which used to be a serious newspaper, uncritically reports on a study commissioned by the American Farm Bureau – an obviously vested interest – that found the cost of agricultural produce would rise if immigration reform is not enacted and instead the current immigration law were enforced against employers hiring illegal aliens.

How could that be since there is a visa program (H-2A) that allows for an unlimited supply of seasonal agricultural guest workers? That AFB’s response is that the H-2A visa program is “overly bureaucratic” and doesn’t allow for year-round work. Those limitations that are designed to protect the jobs of U.S. workers affect the use of the program for jobs like meat processing and dairy. But the study’s findings were about a rise in cost of agricultural produce, not meat prices, so that argument does not wash.

It is correct that effective enforcement of the current law against agricultural employers who hire illegal workers would force greater use of the H-2A visa program, and that would result in slightly higher prices for fruit and vegetable prices. That is because the H-2A program is designed to halt and reverse the decline in agricultural wages that has resulted from the widespread hiring of illegal workers.

Apparently the American Farm Bureau and the NYT are in favor of a seasonal farm workforce forever condemned to subsistence wages that will be increasingly attractive to only exploited foreign workers.