Immigration reform is one of the most emotional issues there is, particularly given that changes to the law might result in a pathway to US citizenship being given to more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. Non-partisan sources such as the United States Department of Labor, USDA, the Pew Research Center and leading researchers and economists offer a clearer view of a discussion that is sometimes muddied by politics.
The reality of the situation is that undocumented immigrants are of immense importance to the US economy and are also crucial to a number of the nation’s industries, such as agriculture. The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project shows that there are around 8.4 million undocumented immigrants working in the United States, around 5.2 percent of the entire country’s workforce, a rise from 3.8 percent 14 years ago in 2000.
The importance of undocumented workers was highlighted by a recent report from Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs, which stated “Without the undocumented population, Texas’ work force would decrease by 6.3 percent” and that the gross state product of Texas would also fall by as much as 2.1 percent. Certain areas of the US economy, such as agriculture, are almost completely dependent on undocumented workers.
In 2009, the National Milk Producers Federation warned that milk prices would rise by 61 percent should their immigrant workforce be removed, while the US Department of Agriculture has also sounded the alarm bell, stating that “any potential immigration reform could have significant impacts on the US fruit and vegetable industry”.