Farmers in California are becoming anxious about the future of their businesses now that Donald Trump is president. Although farmers, like Jeff Marchini, originally supported Trump taking over the Oval Office, they counted on his deportation plans not coming to fruition. But it’s clear from the executive orders already signed that Trump isn’t going easy on immigration issues.
Marchini was initially attracted to Trump’s message of reducing taxes and regulations.
Although this hasn’t happened yet, the first deportation caused by the controversial executive order has. According to researchers at the University of California at Davis, 70% of farm workers are living in the US undocumented. The agriculture industry in California’s Central Valley would be greatly impacted if mass deportation were to happen. These western fields bring in $35 billion a year, in addition to providing most of the nation’s food.
the past years, farmers have felt the impact of labor shortage due to
immigrants facing increased difficulties of crossing the US-Mexico border. Business
owners have resorted to relying on H-2A visas to bring in workers from other
countries to do temporary agricultural jobs. The reliance on this program will
continue as long-time labor workers age and their children choose different
This method is a contradiction of Trump’s encouragement of American jobs. In other words, Trump’s aggressive deportation tactics will inevitably force farmers to hire outsiders to get the job done legally.
Although the presence of Trump supporters is evident through “Make America Great Again” signs in the area, farmers recognize that without undocumented workers, their businesses would crumble. Legal labor is hard to come by and farmers have counted on employees having false documents. Harold McClarty, a farmer with a long linage in the industry, told the New York Times that he recognizes the importance of undocumented workers in the California community:
"If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist. If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster."
the severity of Trump’s deportation plans, McClarty, along with others, has
called his congressional representative advocating for the legalization of the
present farm workers. Business owners agree with the deportation of
immigrants who have committed serious crimes, but not minors ones. Regardless of this, Trump has
changed the definition of a priority deportation, and it will affect millions.
But it isn’t only the agriculture industry that will feel the impact of deportations.
Public school districts that support the children of immigrants would experience great job losses. Local businesses, which rely on the undocumented population, would close. Even car insurance companies would be affected.
Despite Trump’s push to have immigrants sent back to their native countries in order to make more jobs available, it would still be difficult to attract Americans to do farm work.