Don’t Let America’s Farms Fail: Delay Legal Verification of Migrant Workers

Target: U.S Congress

Goal: Don’t require farmers to verify legal immigration status of workers until adequate legal workforces are in place.

Farmers across the United States depend considerably upon a workforce of undocumented immigrants to keep up with food production and economic demands. Recent crackdowns on illegal immigration including a growing force behind the legal verification system E-verify are producing significant shortages even as unemployment remains high. Until farmers have a secure legal workforce, congress should not rush to mandate universal verification of workers’ legal status.

The verification system receiving support in the federal government, E-verify, allows employers to check the legal immigration status of workers. Though not foolproof, it has become more accurate since its adoption, and several states have required that all employers must use it. Farmers adamantly oppose the bill because if E-verify were to be required they would very likely not survive, and in turn, dependence on imported food would increase. Illegal immigrants make up 50 to 70% of the agricultural workforce in the U.S, are largely willing to do the demanding work required of the industry, and are migrant workers willing to move as the agricultural industry often necessitates. Even with high unemployment among American citizens, there are few Americans willing to take such agricultural jobs, and those that attempt to statistically do not usually last long in the industry.

Though heavy dependence on the exploitation of illegal immigrants is not sustainable, there is not another workforce able to replace it right now. Enforcing a universal verification system would crush many farm businesses and food production as well as reinforce discrimination and inequality. Congress should instead work towards facilitating citizenship, and establishing rights to health care and education for the immigrants who supply the majority of U.S agricultural labour.

Please request that U.S Congress not require farmers to verify workers’ legal status with the damaging E-verify system. Instead, encourage a shift towards increased amnesty towards immigrants and support for American farmers.


Dear U.S Congress,

Washington state and other states across the U.S have been facing farm-labour crises, largely due to recent crackdowns on illegal immigration in the form of a legal verification system called E-verify. By requiring employers to verify the legal status of workers, farms lose a huge portion of their workforce which has no ready replacement, and thus many farms are at serious risk of failure. Please take steps to provide farmers with a sufficient legal workforce before mandating that they strictly limit their current workforce with E-verify.

Farmers in the U.S depend on illegal immigrants to provide up to 70% of labour in the agricultural industry. Regardless of who supplies it, this work is necessary for farms and agricultural communities to survive, and to produce sufficient food for America. Although unemployment is high, very few Americans are willing to do such debilitating work, especially as it often necessitates a migrant lifestyle and can barely support a family.

Since structures now in place create such a heavy dependence on the work of illegal immigrants, it is not practical to immediately cut that workforce with a verification system like E-verify. Instead, restructuring should be employed first to ensure that the farms supplying America with food have a sufficient legal workforce. Please take steps to support immigrants by providing citizenship and rights, and thus support American farmers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos

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