If the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives does not pass soon, Americans may feel the repercussions in an unexpected place: their kitchens. Marvin Childers, president of The Poultry Federation, an organization that governs public and private interests in the American poultry and egg industries, claims that the absence of migrant workers is harming production rates and will soon raise consumer costs considerably.
“If we don’t do something, we’re going to drive the price of food completely out of reason for Arkansans and Americans,” Childers said in a press conference on June 3. Childers asserted that the ability for farm owners to find employees has been greatly hindered since the implementation of the federal E-verify system, which is intended to ensure that individuals hired to work on American farms have the legal clearance to do so. He argues that this process has discouraged undocumented residents from applying for these positions, decimating the applicant pool as a whole. Without any process in place to offer these individuals citizenship, the poultry industry may have little recourse but to raise prices. Childers continued: “It’s obvious that our immigration system is broken. We all agree that we need to start with securing the border, but we need to make certain that the people that are here, that we get them on some path to citizenship.”
The poultry industry is not the only American line of trade feeling the effects of delayed immigration reform. Farmers in Utah have issued similar statements regarding their workforce, largely dependent on immigrant labor. Sterling Brown of the Utah Farm Bureau holds concerns about the E-verify system and the disappearance of the workforce. “It is costing Utah’s ranchers tens of millions,” he told the Daily Herald. Whether or not it takes the form of the House of Representatives electing to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill (which has already been approved by the Senate), America’s labor economy requires a quick solution.