EMMETT, Idaho (KBOI) — President Trump plans to crackdown on illegal immigrants and that has some Idaho farmers and immigrant workers worried about their workforce.
Those worried includes workers at the dairy farm on Rim Fire Ranch in Emmett, where the majority of the workers were not born in the U.S.
“Like, I was talking with my wife and I said well if I got to go back, if they come knocking on my door, I’m going to go back (to Mexico),” said Christian, an immigrant worker at the dairy.
Christian is one of several immigrant workers who help keep this dairy running. He says lately he and other workers are scared of President Trump’s immigration reform.
“Yeah those guys, they are afraid to work right now, and some of those guys they are leaving,” Christian said.
Terry Jones, the owner of Rim Fire Ranch, says immigrant workers are vital to the agriculture industry.
“If you got down to the nuts and bolts of this whole issue, (asking) do you want safe, reliable, affordable food on your table? It’s going to take immigrants to get the job done,” Jones said.
According to a 2014 study by New American Economy, in Idaho about 34 percent of agriculture workers are foreign born. And in the dairy industry specifically, about 40 percent of workers are foreign born.
Jones said the dairy industry alone in Idaho requires over 7,000 workers and there aren’t enough Americans who are willing and able to fill those jobs.
“The reason we have those individuals working for us is because they are skilled; they know how to care for the animals,” Jones said.
However, a 2007-2009 USDA survey found that 48 percent of crop workers were illegal immigrants. Jones says one immigration expert told him 75 percent of dairy workers are undocumented, but that doesn’t change his opinion that immigrant workers need to stay.
By Amika Osumi for IDAHONEWS.COM
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