California is the United States agricultural juggernaut. Produce from California feeds the world and drives one of the largest economies on the planet. A side-effect of Trump's beloved, family destroying ICE raids is a massive labor shortage.
Fruit rots on the vine. Children lose their parents.
Their absence threatens segments of the largest state economy, including retailers, restaurants and the Central Valley’s $47 billion agricultural industry, which provides more than half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in the country. That broad, 450-mile swath of California yields an eighth of the country’s agricultural output.
The farm industry is already struggling to find workers like Maria’s husband. More than 55 percent of 762 farmers and ranchers surveyed in a California Farm Bureau Federation report from October 2017 said half of their land continues to go unattended because of an ongoing labor shortage directly related to U.S. immigration policy.
Of the state’s more than 2 million farm laborers, 1.5 million are undocumented, according to Tom Nassif, President of the Western Growers Association, a 92-year-old industry group representing farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Although Nassif and the association have supported Trump since the early days of his campaign, he says the raids and decades-old immigration policy for farm workers are harming the industry and state economy.
Trump Town is a Propublica/Columbia Journalism Investigations interactive database of everyone working in the Trump administration; the latest revision reveals that Trump has hired 281 former lobbyists to regulate the industries that used to sign their paychecks.
Earlier this month, we learned that one of the most enduring frustrations of Trump's presidency is that no one will take his suggestion of building a moat filled with man-eating alligators and poisonous snakes along the US border (something he's been talking up for at least 35 years!).
Ben Watson is a reporter for Defenseone, a news site that covers "US defense and National Security" who formerly served in the US Army as a public affairs officer; last week, Watson returned to the USA after an assignment in Denmark, entering the country at Dulles Airport.
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