proposed immigration legislation could have devastating effects on agriculture.
President Donald Trump has today endorsed legislation proposed by two republican senators (David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas), which would introduce new limits on legal immigration. The new system would be based on merit over any other criteria, which means that highly skilled workers will receive priority over lower skilled workers or potential immigrants who have family members already residing within the United States. If passed, it would also reduce the number of refugees accepted by half, at a time when the world is facing the worst refugee crisis since WWII due to a complex combination of factors which include climate change and conflict.
This is hardly Trump's first attempt at clamping down on both legal and illegal immigration, and proponents of the new legislation maintain that the proposed system would improve U.S. competitiveness, increase wages and create jobs. Immigrant advocates and the farming community have spoken out in criticism of the bill on the basis that it would have a significant effect on the agricultural industry and it's ability to hire farm workers, which would in turn have a deflationary effect on the economy. Farmers all over the country are in agreement about this. The agricultural industry is dependant on low-skilled migrant workers. Thankfully this has been recognised by many in the senate who argue that low skilled workers help to stimulate the economy in the agricultural and construction industries in particular.
While most senators agree that the immigration system need reform, there doesn't seem to be much appetite for these particular proposed changes. So far no other lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor the bill and there is not much indication that even GOP senators are planning on tackling immigration in 2017.