Mollie Tibbetts and the Cheap Labor Lobby



Mollie Tibbetts’ slaying at the hands (allegedly) of an illegal alien farm worker has revived the dubious narrative about an agricultural labor shortage in this country.

Calls for more secure hiring by expanding use of the federal E-Verify employment screening system into the fields encountered immediate pushback from the usual suspects.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce told USA Today it would only support mandatory electronic worker verification if coupled with an overhaul, and expansion, of the country’s guest-worker programs. The American Farm Bureau Federation went a step further, arguing that passing E-Verify alone would reduce production by $60 billion and boost food prices by 5 percent to 6 percent.

The constant plea for more cheap labor in the fields is self-serving and unsupported by the facts on the ground.

While illegal aliens account for 47 percent of U.S. agricultural workers, according to the Labor Department, the ag sector constitutes less than 1 percent of the American workforce. Only 4 percent of illegal aliens and 2 percent of all immigrants perform farm work, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Clearly, no one is going to starve to death if the agriculture industry’s illegal alien spigot is turned off. We doubt anyone would even notice a difference on their grocery bill.

Since 2007, the number of legally imported ag workers on H-2A visas has tripled, growing an average of 13 percent annually, a second CIS study found.

The H-2A program allows U.S. companies to hire an unlimited number of foreign guest workers in temporary, seasonal positions related to agriculture.

Yet the Chamber and the Farm Bureau insist that’s not enough; they’re pushing Congress to allow H-2A visas to be used for year-round workers.

 H-2A laborers are paid less than the national average for comparable field work. Some — including equipment operators, construction laborers and supervisors — earn 23 percent to 95 percent less than the average, CIS reported.

“Are these really jobs Americans won’t do, or has cheap labor pushed them out of the market?” asks Preston Huennekens, author of the CIS study.

Three weeks after young Miss Tibbetts’ body was uncovered in an Iowa cornfield, the special pleaders at the Chamber and the Farm Bureau aren’t answering that crucial question. Instead, they continue to dig up shallow excuses to dodge E-Verify.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

12 Comments

  1. avatar

    It’s estimated that within the next 10 to 15 years automation will almost completely remove the need for any guest workers. Besides, when guest workers come to America they already have their eyes on another job outside of agriculture and when it’s time for them to leave, they are absorbed into the system. Civil unrest and dispatching these maggots is coming because our welfare system and government is broke! When the house of cards comes crashing down there will be no protection for these parasites and *********** will officially begin. They are so ignorant thinking that Americans are just gonna take their ****. NOT

  2. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Some farms use robotics for picking vegetables or fruits, Id say its ideal for gang bangers 2, let them work off thier hatepicking fruit.
    Best use of Inner city labor. The Bad Inner City side.

  3. avatar

    Solution? High school and college students need, not one long summer vacation, but rather two vacations. First at spring planting time, second at fall harvest time. Farmers would get the labor crews they need, students would make the money they need for books and tuition.

  4. avatar

    Now that slavery has been ended and black people have gained their civil rights, greedy American Ag interests need a fresh supply of poor brown people they can exploit and pay almost nothing to pick crops.

    Oh the horror of paying people decent wages and benefits to pick crops! But the more things change the more they stay the same.

    • avatar

      I recently read some articles by libertarians who love open borders. Libertarians think they can have their cheap labor without their cheap labor then turning around and voting for politicians like the Governor of California Jerry Brown who will raise their taxes in order to pay for government programs that will raise the standard of living of their cheap laborers.

      Once all of the millions of new illegal/ legal immigrant cheap labor voters that libertarians and greedy conservatives love so much turn Florida and/or Texas into solid blue states the way they turned California into a solid blue state get ready for Kamala Harris as president followed by Elizabeth Warren and then Corry Booker as president libertarians and greedy conservatives.

      But their is nothing new about people being blinded by their own greed.

      • avatar

        Libertarians and leftists are the same on immigration. Dumb as rocks and nuttier than a fruitcake. There seems to no ability to comprehend the devastating effect that open borders would have on our environment, wages for lowest paid workers, the cost of providing infrastructure and schools for all those people who would come here with no limit.

        And now we have the Obamas back to condescendingly lecture us like the simpletons they think we are. Two of the biggest race hustlers in the history of this country. Both claim they sat in the pews of Rev. Wright’s church for 20 years and yet never heard a word of the anti-white anti-American rhetoric he spewed. Even Wright said that was bogus.

        Obama even quoted Wright in one of his books when he said “white folks greed runs a world in need”. Michelle Obama made the remark that reaction to his campaign made her: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country”. Yet the two of them call Trump divisive while race relations became the worst in decades under Obama. Meanwhile the vice chair of the DNC Keith Ellison was a decade long follower of Louis Farrakhan, who has a endless trail of bigoted statements.

  5. avatar

    A lot of produce isn’t even from this country anymore. Check the labels on things like avocados and tomatoes. Most are from Mexico and even Canada. Bringing more visa workers here has nothing to do with the prices of those items.

    Interesting correction in the USA Today article. It first claimed that Japanese Americans were the only ones interred in camps during WW2. That fits in with the liberal media line that white Americans would have never been subject to such treatment. Wrong. There were 11,500 German Americans in camps around the country. Also some of Italian descent. Same thing happened in WW1.

    If anyone had any doubt about media bias, there is a tape of the major news networks about 10 pm on election night when it became apparent Trump would win. All the reporters and anchors look they are attending a funeral.

  6. avatar

    Poor Mollie had to die so that Stinkin’ RINO’s could have Cheap Labor and Dem’s could have voter fraud. This is what passes for ‘bi-partisanship!”