According to Frontera Fund founders, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the US economy has a high dependence on Mexican labor. In fact, a little more than 10% of the country’s economy depends on the labor of Mexicans living in this country.
Although the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has stabilized in recent years, after decades of rapid growth, President Trump considers migrants as invaders who steal jobs from Americans.
According to an online NYtimes article, farmers in California heavily voted for Trump, and backed his pledge to crack down on immigration, but what they didn’t consider were their migrant farm workers being grouped into those policies.
According to Pew, 52% of undocumented migrants are of Mexican origin, although total numbers have declined in recent years. In 2015 it was estimated that of the total US workforce, only about 8 million were unauthorized migrants.
This is equivalent to 5% of the total workforce. Larkin and Lacey point out, if migrant farm workers are returned to Mexico, the impact would hit the agricultural industry hard. About $35 billion annually is made from California farming fields, and is heavily dependent upon migrant workers.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin say that disrupting the migrant workers would impact not only the agriculture industry, but sectors in leisure, hospitality, transportation, trade and professional services. One of the most important sectors of the US economy right now is construction, which would also be affected.
For years, in the United States, food has been dependent on Mexican migrant workers. Studies conclude that the impact of expelling all Mexican workers will hit 10% of gross domestic product (GDP). Calculations show that the economy would fall back to 2008 levels, when the country was hit by financial crisis.
Lacey and Larkin point out that Trump has threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including migrant farm workers, and accelerated deportations, which could be catastrophic for the agriculture industry. California has one of the largest economies in the US, and 70 percent of the workforce in the agricultural industry is made up of migrant workers. Migrant workers are granted an H2A visa, used for workers in the agricultural field.
In eight states there have been significant declines in the number of undocumented immigrant workers: Alabama, Nevada, Kansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Rhode Island. While in seven others, numbers have increased: Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
There is also the issue of low wages. Mexican migrant men and women have the lowest salary of all ethnic communities in the United States. “Despite being the largest community, Mexican migrants earn less,” say Larkin and Lacey.
Since the founding of The Frontera Fund in 2014, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have partnered with groups to support better opportunities for migrant workers. Working to alleviate poverty, get more resources to vulnerable groups, and strengthen participation to exercise rights in the US. Their work is based on needs in local communities, and supporting organizations that help problem-solve various issues.
Through the Frontera Fund, Michael and Jim empower, network, and lead an active role in helping improve access to better opportunities.