This book explores the possible economic implications of large
shifts in the supply of foreign-born, hired farm labour that could
result from substantial changes in U.S. immigration laws or
policies. Hired labour is an important input to U.S. agricultural
production, accounting for about 17 percent of variable production
expenses and about 40 percent of such expenses for fruit,
vegetables, and nursery products. Over the past 15 years, roughly
half of the hired labourers employed in U.S. crop agriculture have
lacked the immigration status needed to work legally in the United
States. Thus, changes in immigration laws or policies could lead to
markedly different economic outcomes in the agricultural sector and
the market for hired farm labour. The same is generally true for
other economic sectors that rely on large numbers of unauthorised
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