About the Problem

America's immigration system is broken, but legal immigration is essential for the current and future prosperity of the United States.

Many U.S. farms have been reporting labor shortages as the number of incoming immigrants decreases. For example, according to Pew Research, the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. has recently fallen below the number headed back to their own country.

Immigration

About the Policy

Expand seasonal or annual guest worker visa programs for lower-skilled foreign workers in sectors such as agriculture.

Public Support

63% of All Polled
75% of Democrats
54% of Republicans
50% of Independents

Polling data derived from three national surveys conducted by Cohen Research Group in February and March 2016. Each survey had a sample size of at least 1,000 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%

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America relies on foreign workers to sustain low-skilled sectors such as agriculture. But decreased immigration since 2005 has created labor shortages, making it difficult for American farms and businesses to find staff and continue to operate.

The shortage is significant: between 2002 and 2012 the number of new field and crop workers immigrating to the U.S. fell by 75 percent. During that time period, the increase in US-born workers was only able to offset about three percent of that decline in agricultural work force. Consider how that impacts:

· Farmer’s Revenues: Labor shortages caused farm production to fall. Had labor shortages not been an issue, production of crops could have been higher by about $3.1 billion a year.

· Economic Productivity: Because farm revenues often trickle down to other industries, that $3.1 billion in additional farm production would have led to almost $2.8 billion in added spending on non-farm services like transportation, manufacturing, and irrigation each year.

· Job Creation Across the Economy: The Partnership for a New American economy estimates that the $2.8 billion in added spending on non-farm services would have created more than 41,000 additional non-farm jobs in our economy annually.

The American immigration system is broken, and steady illegal immigration is a major reason why. But restricting short-term, seasonal guest worker permits causes more harm than good. For our economy to thrive, we need to expand the legal avenues through which low-skilled workers can travel to the United States to work in sectors such as agriculture, by expanding the guest worker program.