Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist Alejandro Gutierrez-Li was recently quoted by NBC News in “Farmers push for immigration reform to counter labor shortages and rising food prices.”
Alejandro Gutierrez-Li, a professor in the department of agricultural and resource economics at North Carolina State University, said although it may not be a perfect piece of legislation it does tackle some of the most exigent issues facing agriculture and despite there being some “touchy” points, the bill has garnered more support among the farming community than other immigration reforms.
“It is very important to really pass something because labor shortages in agriculture are getting worse every year,” he said. “It’s very hard to know what exactly is going to happen but at least in terms of the number of workers you have every year it would eliminate some of the most pressing issues like the fact that workers can stay here all year-round so that’s kind of helpful.”
From 2014 to 2016 about half of the more than 3 million farmworkers lacked legal immigration status, according to a survey conducted by the the Agriculture Department — which conceded in its report that the number is likely not comprehensive because of the fear around reporting immigration status.
Gutierrez-Li said this will open up the program to many undocumented immigrants who will now have the ability to gain legal status through their work.