California is one of the United States’ largest producers of agricultural goods. As a result, there has always been a demand for more labor to meet the quantity demanded. In order to fill the demand for labor, workers from Mexico or other countries south of the United States border crossed the border into California illegally, hoping to find work. In other cases, citizens from other countries will apply for visas in the United States and then overstay their visas. These workers become undocumented migrant workers, roaming from farm to farm, hoping that they can make enough money to send home. Farmers hire these workers and pay them illegally with cash. A recent report by Leon F. Bouvier states that “Since 1979, legal immigrants have averaged 566,000 a year; newly arrived refugees approved have averaged 135,000; and the "settled" illegal immigrant population may be growing by up to half a million a year. Many illegal immigrants entered the United States legally and then overstayed their visas, and there has also been a sharp increase in illegal border crossings from Mexico and Central America.” (Bouvier 3) There are also many extraneous costs that come with hiring undocumented migrant workers. There must be increased border control, more workers to enforce U.S. policy, and new legislature that must be introduced to offset the increasing illegal immigrant population within California. These immigrants are not legal residents or citizens of the United States; instead, they are illegally working and living in California, earning wages that are far below the standard legal minimum wage.
On average, an undocumented migrant worker from Mexico that works in the agricultural sector in California will earn around $4.54 an hour. However, the minimum wage in California as of January 1, 2013 is $8 an hour. As they earn much less than the average farm worker, it can be inferred that these migrant workers artificially deflate the price of California’s agricultural goods. As a result, it can be inferred that perhaps undocumented migrant workers benefit California’s economy more than they hurt the economy.
There is an increasing number of undocumented immigrants, but field agents and census takers are unable to obtain a semi-accurate count of how many undocumented immigrants actually exist in the United States. These immigrants often hide from government officials in order to avoid being caught, and subsequently being deported back to their home country. As they are also migrant workers and constantly move around the state from farm to farm, it is also difficult to try and formulate a number of how many illegal or undocumented immigrants reside in the state of California. (Immigrant and Migrant workers in the Santa Maria Valley, California 2) Therefore, it is difficult to estimate how many jobs the undocumented migrant workers have taken from legal citizens that are looking for work within California’s agricultural sector.
A report from the LA times...