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American Farm Bureau Report: Enforcement-Only Immigration Bills Raise Food Prices 5-6%

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The current Republican fantasy on immigration reform seems to involve killing legislation this year, then passing a bill “the right way” in 2015, when they’re hoping to be in control of the Senate.  Such a bill, as advocated by nativists like Mark Krikorian, would drastically beef up border security and immigration enforcement first, followed — potentially — by recognition of the 11 million many years later.

Enforcement-first/enforcement-only proposals are DOA with immigration reform advocates and Democrats.  And, according to a new report from the American Farm Bureau, they’re bad for the economy.  As the New York Times reports:

The study — which was commissioned by the American Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farm lobby organization — said food prices would increase an additional 5 to 6 percent over the next five years if enforcement-only policies were put into place, because of a lack of workers to harvest crops. It would cost the agriculture sector as much as $60 billion over the same period…

According to the report, the hardest-hit domestic food sectors under an enforcement-only proposal would be fruit production, which would plummet by 30 to 61 percent, and vegetable production, which would decline by 15 to 31 percent. Both fruit and vegetables are labor intensive sectors because most of the crops must be picked by hand.

The study also found that livestock production, which also depends on immigrant labor, would fall by 13 to 37 percent.

The Times goes on to remind Republicans: “The farm sector has been a core constituency of the Republican Party for many years. In the 2012 presidential election, farm-heavy districts voted overwhelmingly for the presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”