Immigration Raids Hurt Farmers

I chose this article because it had several different references to Economics principles that make a good point in the fight against illegal immigration. It describes an 11,000 acre farm that has been raided twice for hiring illegal aliens (termed in this article: undocumented workers); and is now having trouble finding enough help to get the crops picked. This of course is a supply problem caused by those raids.

The next principle it brings up is that fact that this kind of supply shortage will probably not be felt among the consumers of American grown products. This causes me to think that it is really not that big of a shortage and really not that big of a problem.

The article then goes on to say that this will cause us to lose our domestic production of food and shift it to foreign farms who can supply it to us cheaper. I think we call this a competive advantage. If they can do it better and cheaper are we not better off to do what we can do more efficiently and then trade with those countries? Now I understand that we need a food supply for our national security, but come on...we have enough available land to grow food in a time of need.

The article then mentions that it doesn't matter how much farmers pay their workers, because raising the wage doesn't seem to attract enough workers. I disagree. I bet there is a point where workers will begin to shuffle into that kind of work. It is hard work that Americans feel they should be justly compensated for or they can go elsewhere. I don't buy the fact they just won't do the work because we are above it. The fact that Americans or legal immigrants can find a substitute for working on farms will make the farmers need to pay more to get legal help.

This article makes me wonder when we traded national security and a desire to turn a blind eye to the immigration problem for the almighty dollar. I think it is wrong deep down to allow people to come here illegally just so farmers don't have to pay a decent wage to those that pick their crops. I think a good solution is to make it easier for immigrants who want to come here legally to do it much easier and more efficiently than our current system. Then we would at least know who is here and that we are not allowing just anyone to cross our borders to keep our prices low in this post 9/11 world.


Caden said...

I totally agree with the premise of this blog. The farm is currently experiencing a labor shortage which people blame on the job being one that Americans "won't do." There is always a wage where you will be able to find enough workers to do the job. The question is weather or not the farm can be profitable while having to pay that high of a wage. The basic premise of capitalism and the invisible hand is that resources will be moved into more economically efficient uses. If the wage needed to bring workers to the farm is to high for the farm to survive then it must not be economically efficient to have that particular farm in business and the resources of the farm can be better used some other way.

Dr. Tufte said...

I agree as well.

Not only is the article wrong-headed, but a good deal of our policy on agriculture, labor and immigration is as well.

It's all about thinking past the first stage to the deeper consequences of our choices.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I agree with you in that often times we do not look at the consequences of our decisions and the effects they have. By allowing illegal immigration it causes a multitude of problems. For instance we have the children of the immigrants in our school systems and are paying those costs, also the costs of health care that the government takes on, and none of them are paying taxes. There are a lot more problems that are seen when you start to look deeper into the effects of allowing immigration. Yes, the farmers might have to go out of business, but as Caden clearly explained that is what happens in a competitive market. If you are unable to compete then you are taken out of business plain and simple. You don't see the government helping out other businesses that can't compete.