Senior staffers with direct access to meetings says agricultural industry lobbyists have been meeting with an extensive group of Republican congressmen regarding the recent immigration orders and raids. “These were more like the town-halls some have been seeing,” noted the staffer. “They basically told us to block Trumps plans or else they’ll find someone who will during the next election,”
The ag lobby, which is heavily reliant on immigrant labor is typically a strong Republican donor. However, the recent raids and threats to increase deportations are seen as actions that could cost the industry billions. The recent meetings with Republican lawmakers is viewed as the industry puffing up its chest, but behind closed doors. Republican strategist Edward Lees stated, “The ag lobby understands there is a lot of support behind Trump immigration proposals so they don’t want to be out in the news pushing back, but they also know that mass deportations would be hugely detrimental to the industry. They’re going put up a big silent fight on this and they throw around a lot of weight in a lot of red states. If farmers start tilling under crops because they don’t have workers to harvest them there is going to be a big backlash and Republican lawmakers are going to be on the receiving end of that.”
So while on one end of the country the Trump immigration policy is pitting supporters against one another, on the other side it has created in an unusual collaboration of groups. Jose Robles a migrant worker’s rights advocates in the Central Valley of California says he’s recently been receiving calls from farmers concerned about their workers and asking what resources and legal options are available for their workers. “These are the guys we’re normally fighting to improve worker conditions and now they are calling me for help. This is something I’ve never experienced,” said Robles. “Some of these guys are worried about community raids that could take out their entire workforce. It seems a little extreme, but I guess if your livelihood is one the online you start looking at worse cases scenarios. And in that scenario they literally have product rotting in the field.” Robles continued, “I know a lot of these guys voted for Trump. I mean they are literally wearing Make America Great Again hats when they came to talk.”
Farmers we reached out to declined to talk on the record for fear of highlighting themselves and their illegal works. They stated that their businesses would be devastated if they loss their migrant help. “We literally wouldn’t have anyone to pick fruits or vegetables in the Valley. I know people think Americans are losing their jobs to these people, but haven’t had a white person work a more than a week as a field hand in the last 20 years. They just aren’t willing to work in the same conditions for the same pay or even more pay,” sighed one farmer. “I really have no idea what we would do without them.” The situation has created an interesting position for Republican lawmakers and voters alike.