From Migration.UCDavis.edu, Philip Martin, 15 Jun 2011.
About half of US crop workers have been unauthorized for the past decade, according to DOL’s National Agricultural Workers Survey (www.doleta.gov/agworker/naws.cfm). The AgJOBS immigration reform proposal, pending since 2000, would provide a path to legal status for some unauthorized farm workers and revise the H-2A temporary worker program to make it easier for farm employers to employ legal guest workers.
Immigration is transforming rural and agricultural areas throughout the United States. Newcomers from Mexico and Central America fill many of the seasonal jobs on especially fruit, vegetable and horticultural (FVH) crop farms as well as year-round jobs in many dairy and livestock operations and farm-related jobs in food processing and meatpacking. Most Hispanic immigrants remain in seasonal farm and farm-related jobs for less than a decade before moving up the US job ladder, often finding jobs in construction or services. When the US economy booms and unemployment falls, as in 2006-07, the revolving door that brings Latino immigrants into farm jobs and moves them on to nonfarm jobs turns faster, generating farm labor shortage complaints. During the 2008-09 recession, some ex-farm workers moved down the job ladder, returning to the farm work force after losing construction and other nonfarm jobs. There were few farm labor shortage complaints.