The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Marjorie Valbrun,202-463-8602 x305,

The Republican Plan to Deport the American Agriculture Industry

E-Verify Without Broader Reform Would Hurt Economy & Make the Nation’s Broken Immigration System Worse


House Republicans' mass deportation vision for immigration "reform" will again be on display at the next hearing of the House Immigration Subcommittee. Tomorrow's hearing is about expanding E-Verify to all employers in the United States, the centerpiece of the Republicans' vision for expelling 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families from the country. Shockingly, if the program worked as Reps. Smith, Gallegly, and King hope, the GOP would essentially deport the entire U.S. agriculture industry and send more of our nation's food supply--and jobs--overseas.

Our nation's agriculture industry is already facing a labor crisis, and is heavily reliant on an existing labor force that is comprised mostly of undocumented immigrants. The Republicans' vision for E-Verify would gut the entire sector, leaving food to rot in the fields, driving up prices for American consumers, and outsourcing even more of our food supply and food security. Given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that for every on-farm job in America, there are about 3.1 "upstream" and "downstream" jobs in the nation, the accelerated movement of U.S. agriculture overseas would lead to increased unemployment for Americans as well.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, "It's ironic that the so-called 'pro-business party' is pushing a policy that would decimate one of the key sectors of the American economy. Evidently, pandering to radical elements in the GOP that actually believe it's possible and desirable to deport 11 million undocumented workers is more important than maintaining a home-grown agriculture industry."

Compounding the effects on U.S. agriculture, the economic costs of E-Verify and the House Republicans' mass deportation fantasies would be staggering to American taxpayers, small businesses, and our overall economy. For example, recent investigative research by Bloomberg found that had a mandatory E-Verify system been in effect in FY2010, it would have cost small businesses $2.6 billion nationwide. A proposal to mandate E-Verify in 2008 was scored by CBO as costing American taxpayers $17 billion in lost revenues.

Said Sharry, "As part of comprehensive immigration reform, a workable mandatory employment verification system makes sense. Absent comprehensive reform, however, it would mean the death of the nation's agriculture industry, hurt the American economy, and drive more jobs either overseas or into the underground economy. With the prospect of more workers subject to exploitation, bad actor employers must be cheering on Lamar Smith. Decent employers, especially in agriculture, are wondering if they can survive."

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.