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“Effects of U.S. Policies on Illegal Migration”

Data-driven look at impact of Trump Administration actions on agriculture industry

From a United States/Mexico border wall to deportation, there is a great deal of debate over immigration policies and proposals set forth by President Donald Trump.

The Pew Research Center estimates there were 11.3 million undocumented workers in the U.S. in 2014, and people in the agriculture industry are particularly concerned about how new legislation will make an impact to the potential labor pool.

“There is a huge shortage of labor and tightening border control and increasing deportation is making it harder for vegetable and fruit growers to find workers,” said Stephen Devadoss of Texas Tech University. “Building a wall won’t help farmers.”

Devadoss is taking an evidence-based look at the situation in his paper “Effects of U.S. Policies on Illegal Immigration,” which he will present at the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago, July 30 – August 1.

“What we found is there will be a negative effect because these policies don’t provide any solutions to what farmers are currently facing,” Devadoss said. “There is already a labor shortfall and consequently farmers can’t do basic operations, including harvesting.”

Devadoss says about 20 percent of fruits and vegetables went unharvested in parts of the country because of a dwindling labor force over the past decade. So what can be done to help American farmers, and what programs already in place could help farmers find employees and get the crops into the country’s food supply?

Research on this headline-making issue is part of a session on household and labor economics Tuesday, August 1, at 1:15 p.m. For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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