Farm labor is evolving – more legal immigrant workers

Important changes are afoot in the use of immigrant workers in farming: more dependence on legal immigrants, higher wages. This is one element in the gradual normalization of the immigrant workforce in America: better paid, less dependent on an unauthorized workforce.

Hired farm labor was 53% immigrant (70% of them unauthorized) in 2014. In 2019, the immigrant share declined to 49% (and 55% of these were documented). (Go here.) Thus we see a decline in the use of immigrants. Farms are employing much fewer unauthorized workers.

Over the same period, temporary farm labor visas (H-2A) increased from 89,000 to 213,000!

It appears that American agriculture is trending away from using immigrants here in the U.S. either legally or illegally towards using temporary workers from Latin America (almost all from Mexico).

The wage benchmark for farm labor used as part of the visa program increased by 20%; in 2021 the wage benchmark was $14.62 vs $10.36 in 2010. Thus farms that use H-2A workers are paying their workers more.

One side effect: more produce is being imported. The great majority of raspberries are now imported.

Poll on perceptions of threats to American culture

I post here on a survey conducted in 2016, and still quite valid today.

Analysis by PRRI and The Atlantic, based on surveys conducted before and after the 2016 election, reveals the degree to which white working-class Americans feel threatened culturally. Social scientist Robert Putnam reported as much in 2006. Cultural diversity is intimately related to immigrant populations, which spread out across the country after about 1990.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of white working-class Americans believe American culture and way of life has deteriorated since the 1950s.

Nearly half (48%) of white working-class Americans say, “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.”

Nearly seven in ten (68%) white working-class Americans believe the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. In contrast, fewer than half (44%) of white college-educated Americans express this view.

Nearly seven in ten (68%) white working-class Americans—along with a majority (55%) of the public overall—believe the U.S. is in danger of losing its culture and identity.

More than six in ten (62%) white working-class Americans believe the growing number of newcomers from other countries threatens American culture, while fewer than one-third (30%) disagree. The views of white college-educated Americans are nearly reversed, with a majority (54%) expressing the view that immigrants strengthen the country.

Note on Robert Putnam’s survey on diversity around the year 2000. In his 2006 lecture, “E Pluribus Unum,” Putnam warned, “The more ethnically diverse a residential context is, the less we trust …” He said the more racially diverse a community, the less trust exists among neighbors. Even trust within groups is lower in more diverse settings.

The UK workforce and migrants from the E.U.

The U.K, has a workforce of 35 million. About 2.9 million of them, or over 8%, have migrated from the E.U. before Brexit and are eligible for shifting to formal post – Brexit immigration status.

This is equivalent to half of the foreign-born workers in the U.S. having to adjust their immigration status in the space of a few years, and with a severe deadline for applying for adjustment.

The penetration of the EU workers is very high in some sectors. “In 2018, according to the Migration Observatory, 21% of low-skilled factory and construction jobs were held by EU-born workers, as were 17% of factory and machine operators jobs, and 13% of jobs in food preparation and ‘other skilled trades’. People from older EU member states tend to be more concentrated in the education, and professional and scientific sectors while workers from newer member states tend to be more concentrated in the retail, and transport and storage sectors. In 2018, more than half of workers from newer EU member states were overqualified for the work they did, compared to less than a quarter from older member states.” (from here.)

Also data from here and here.

Biden to expel more border migrants

In one of the few well written daily news articles on the Border, Miriam Jordan of the NY Times writes, “The Biden administration announced late Monday [July 26] that it would begin swiftly removing migrant families that immigration officials determined did not qualify for asylum after an initial screening at the southwestern border.

The policy, known as expedited removal [Title 42], is a return to a measure that has been used by Democratic and Republican administrations to deter unauthorized immigration. Asylum officers interview families in a fast-tracked screening process to determine if they have a “credible fear of persecution.”

The Biden administration has been struggling to cope with an influx of unauthorized arrivals that shows few signs of abating.

“Expedited removal provides a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

Under an emergency order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the coronavirus pandemic, the Biden administration has had the authority to expel to Mexico any migrants who show up at the border without a visa.

Advocates have been hoping that the C.D.C. would revoke Title 42, which they consider a tool used for immigration enforcement rather than for protecting the country from the virus. Critics say that quick deportations are especially problematic because they can lead to erroneous expulsions.

In June, Border Patrol agents encountered 188,800 people, the highest monthly number in at least a decade. That brought to one million the number of border apprehensions in the first nine months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Agents apprehended 55,805 family members and 15,253 unaccompanied minors in June, up from 44,639 and 14,158 in May. Just 14 percent of the families intercepted last month were expelled under the public health order.

Extreme polarization on immigration

Gallup is reporting the most severe polarization between parties on immigration I have ever seen. Around 2000, Dems and Reps each contained inclusivist and restrictionist groups. Today there are hardly any restrictionists among Dems and  inclusivists among Reps. (Go here.)

The surge at the Mexican border has persisted

The surge in Border crossings has persisted.

My prior posts on the situation at the Mexican border underscored the effect of very long delays in court cases for asylum cases – an incentive to apply for asylum. What is going on now, in the summer of 2021, is a sharp rise in the number of single men trying to cross over. They are sent back, and they try again, are caught, and sent back again – thus driving up the numbers of crossings.

I have not seen this mentioned elsewhere – it is to me reasonable that many people who cross illegally speculate that once they are in the country, they can fabricate a history which shows that they were in the U.S. before the cut off date for legalization of unauthorized persons — the idea is to get in right now. When the 1986 reform act was implemented, granting legal status to about three million persons, there was a lot of gaming for status as a farm worker in order to become a legal resident.

In March Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas addressed the problem at the time of high volumes of single men, families and unaccompanied children. The situation has worsened according to a July 16 article in the Wall Street Journal:

“Border Patrol agents have made more than a million arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border so far this year, already higher than any full-year total since at least 2005…..Agents made more than 178,000 arrests in June, a 3% increase over the prior month. The number of migrants traveling as families arrested crossing the border illegally rose once more in June to around 50,000, a 23% increase over the previous month.”

Texas-sized migration

Texas has been growing a lot in population. Much of this is due to foreign-born persons. Their move to the state accounted for 35% of the net in-migration into the state between 2010 and 2016. (Immigrants make up 13% of the national population.)

But immigrants already in the state added to the natural increase. In 2019, foreign born mothers accounted for 31% of births. And 35% of children under the age of 18 had at least one foreign-born mother. (Go here.)

Texas has (after California) the second largest Indian-American population among states. They account for over 6% of the population in two Congressional districts (3 and 22). SAAVTEX is trying to boost Indian- American voter turnout.

Human Trafficking

Migration, both internal and to another country, legally and otherwise,is a key vulnerability for human trafficking because migrants so often fall outside of the full legal protections of their countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of destination. Those victimized by human traffickers in the United States are disproportionately from Latin America – most frequently from Mexico. (From Polaris

The United Nations keeps track of human trafficking. Only about 25,000 cases are formally reported worldwide, a figure greatly influenced by government law enforcement practices. There is much intra-state and neighboring country trafficking. For instance, most of the cases identified by law enforcement in Africa involved activity in sub-Saharan Africa, not transport to other continents.

There are large variations in trafficking experience, the data influenced by variations in law enforcement and reporting practices. Abduction of women and girls for sexual slavery has been reported in many conflicts in Central and West Africa, as well as in the conflicts in the Middle East. It has also been reported that women and girls are trafficked for forced marriage in the same areas.

Recruitment of children for use as armed combatants is widely documented in many of the conflict areas considered: from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Central African Republic, as well as in conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Armed groups recruit children for exploitation in forced labour in various supportive roles, from logistics to catering. Recruitment and exploitation of children in extractive industries have been reported conflicts in sub- Saharan Africa, in some cases for the purpose of financing the activities of armed groups.

Within conflict zones, armed groups may make use of trafficking as a strategy to assert territorial dominance. They can spread fear of being trafficked among groups in the territories where they operate to keep the local population under control. They may also use women and girls as ‘sex slaves’ or force them into marriages to appeal to new potential male recruits.

See the U.N. Protocols 

Asian Americans have almost doubled since 2000

Pew Research says that between 2000 and 2019, Asian American numbers grew by 81%, outpacing a 70% increase among Hispanics. The Black population grew by 20% during this span, while there was virtually no change in the White population. Green cards awarded annually to Asians roughly doubled since 2000 while remaining roughly steady for people from the Americas.

Today the Asian population is about 23.2 million, or 7% of the population, up from 1.5% in 1980. It will be 46 million in 2060, or 11%.

Put another way, Asian Americans were equivalent to 53% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. in 1985, will be 67% in 2025, and will be 123% in 2065.


The American Basin of foreign labor

I looked at how ten Latin American and Caribbean countries are economically dependent on their citizens who live outside their countries. (See the list at the end, below). For the most part, the great majority of their expatriate citizens are in the United States.

Let’s call these ten countries the American Basin of foreign labor. Since 1960, they make up 20 million or 45% of all immigrants today. They include 4 of the top 10 countries of origin of American immigration since 1960.

The American Basin has a blended average per capita income of $17,000. 21% of the citizens live outside their country. Remittances back to the Basin counties are equivalent to 8% of Gross National Product.

A few of these countries are very little dependent on expatriate labor. Notable is Costa Rica, with per capita income of $20,000, less than 3% of its population outside, and with extremely low remittances as percentage of GDP (0.5%). Costa Rica has by far the lowest corruption rating of the ten countries.

The extreme opposite is Haiti. Its per capita income is $3000, 14% of its citizens live outside, and remittances are 18% of GDP. The following countries have remittances > 19% of GDP: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica

The ten countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. Cuba is not included because it is missing from some key databases.

Data sources: 


GDP per capita

Also, detailed analysis of global and regional trends are available in the Migration and Development Brief 34 at