Immigration

California farmers who voted for Trump could lose the undocumented workers they rely on

In the months since Nov. 9, there’s been little comfort for the majority of Americans who did not vote for President Donald Trump — save for the woes of regretful Trump supporters, who are now realizing that hindsight is 20/20 with every awful policy Trump passes. Tweets by regretful Trump voters have even become a prevalent internet meme.

In the rural zones of California, where Trump drew support from farmers who found the promise of reducing regulations and taxes appealing, the same farmers who voted for Trump are becoming afraid they’ll lose the labor they profit from as a result of Trump’s executive orders.

According to the New York Times, many of the wealthy farmers who voted for Trump believed that his promises to be tough on immigration were mere lip service to conservatives. However, just weeks into his presidency, Trump has already signed executive orders dramatically affecting immigration law and resulting in deportations that are leaving farmers concerned about their many undocumented workers whom their business rely on.

Mr. Trump’s immigration policies could transform California’s Central Valley, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis. The impact could reverberate throughout the valley’s precarious economy, where agriculture is by far the largest industry. With 6.5 million people living in the valley, the fields in this state bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation’s food than any other state.

The consequences of a smaller immigrant work force would ripple not just through the orchards and dairies, but also to locally owned businesses, restaurants, schools and even seemingly unrelated industries, like the insurance market.

“If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist,” Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer based in Kingsburg, CA, told the Times. “If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster.”

The sentiments of farmers who voted for Trump and could now see their businesses harmed by the loss of affordable labor closely respect those of the many Trump supporters who benefited from the Affordable Care Act, which Trump and Republicans in Congress are hellbent on repealing. The many low-income, rural white Americans who voted Trump will also see attacks on public education and the social safety net that they rely on.

After being enticed by his rhetoric to the extent that they ignored his counterproductive policies, not only farmers in rural parts of California but perhaps the vast majority of low-income Trump supporters who benefited from policies of the Obama administration will come to regret their vote, if they don’t already.

Featured image via Penn State

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