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Marketplace Morning Report

What’s at stake for farmers in immigration debate

Jeremy Hobson Feb 7, 2013
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President Obama is meeting with House Democrats today to rally support for several items on his agenda, including immigration reform.

Lawmakers are still trying to work through some disagreements on the issue, such as whether a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants should be contingent on tighter border security. One industry that is closely following the negotiations is the U.S. agriculture sector.

“The agriculture industry has been a big proponent of immigration reform,” says Stephen Keppel, economics editor for Univsion News. According to Keppel, 75 percent of all farm workers in America were born in Mexico and 53 percent of those are undocumented.

If Congress takes the path of mass deportations, it would be a crushing blow to the farming industry and the economy at large, Keppel adds:

“There are some estimates that it would cost maybe $285 billion to deport all undocumented immigrants. It could cost the economy $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years,” he says.

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