Arizona City Sees Exponential Increase in Foreign Workers

An Arizona city known as the nation’s “Winter Salad Bowl” for its production of lettuce witnessed its number of foreign agricultural workers increase by almost 33 percent in just three years. Yuma accommodated 2,858 foreign workers through the H-2A visa program in 2016, but that number escalated to 3,800 by 2019, according to The Washington Post.

The author of the article claims that due to a change in immigration patterns and increased border security in the area, farmers have turned to legal means like the H-2A program to hire workers, rather than their dwindling pool of illegal aliens. While this is a step in the right direction, why exactly are farmers in this border city relying on foreign labor? Yuma had a 15.4 percent unemployment rate in December 2018. That is three times the state’s average.

If employers still find it difficult to hire local labor, maybe the problem lies with them, not the labor market. Americans often search for jobs that will allow them to support their families. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, adults need to earn about $16 per hour to support the average family in Yuma’s county. Unfortunately, farm laborers typically earn much less than that in Arizona.

The average crop farmhand in The Grand Canyon State only earns $23,350 annually, or $11.23 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This simply isn’t enough for someone attempting to support a family in the state. However, many foreign nationals are more than willing to accept these jobs because the wages are still much better than what they could earn in their home countries.

One H-2A visa holder in the Post’s article said it all too well:

“The money is triple for me, and for some others more than 10 times what they would make in Mexico,” proclaimed Humberto Ruiz Silva, a Mexican national who crosses the border with his work visa every morning.

The minimum wage in Mexico is the equivalent of $5.10 per day. Even at minimum wage, Mexican nationals can make far more in the U.S. compared to what they would receive back home, so they are taking advantage of the opportunity. The federal government issued nearly 200,000 H-2A visas in 2018. Farmers appear to have an unlimited pool of foreign labor undercutting the labor market. Americans can’t compete when foreign nationals will work for far less than a fair living wage.

Farmers claim that they struggle to find employees here in the United States, but the reality of the situation is that they want the federal government to continue importing cheap labor. But then again, if the system is in place, why wouldn’t employers utilize it to maximize their profits? It’s time for President Trump and Congress to invest in the American worker and finally repair this broken system.

About Author


Casey joined FAIR in 2018. He assists the research team with projects and writes for FAIR’S website. He previously spent a year working in journalism in Washington, D.C. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Journalism in 2017.


  1. avatar

    Seems like they could just use all that bribery money to pay their employees more or provide them with housing. OR purchase machines for labor. But the real reason they don’t is because it’s all part of a master take over plan. It’s not China, Russia , or Korea we need to worry about, Cartel owned AG Companies need more people under their power.

  2. avatar

    In this space age year of 2019, it seems like we would have machines that could do most of the farm work.
    And why is it the Presidents fault? He is the one trying to stop the mass invasion of people that want to turn America into Mexico. Now here is the part that gets me really confused If all those people succeed in invading America , the first thing they will do is make America just like Mexico . Then it would be just like the place they didn’t want to be in. So what is the point? I live in an AG City and I see it all around me. The migrant workers come in and proudly fly the flag of Mexico. They cram 3-4 families in one house, add a bunch of chickens and Dogs, litter the streets, pollute the water. Train Dogs for fighting and hold dog fights in the City limits. Crowd up the Dr. offices and Social Services, and park 5 vehicles on their lawn. Our once beautiful City is a trashy mess full of crime. So how is that better? I keep hearing those bragging words “We are here and we are taking over” Okay, so take over. That means no more American Government Support. Let the Cartel run your life . Are they going to provide resources for you? Will they allow you to progress in life? Really ? Just like in Mexico? Was that working out for you over there? Well now you are you are going to be right back in the same situation you were in before.

  3. avatar

    We Pay for H-2A Workers

    So that China gets cheaper soy beans, Canada gets cheaper pork, Saudi Arabia gets alfalfa for their dairy industry, while our pig, cow feed and milk products go through the roof in price? And we have to care for the foreign farm slaves to boot?

    Sounds like the NWO has made a laughing stock of America.

  4. avatar

    A lot of our produce is no longer even from the US. Check the stickers on tomatoes, avocados, berries, there are tons of crops coming from out of the country, particularly Mexico. The growers here have a choice. Either pay someone a living wage or go mechanical. Almost all tomatoes grown for canning in this country are harvested mechanically. There is really no need to have stoop labor for a lot of agriculture. Lettuces and greens and other vegetables can be grown in greenhouses. It’s more expensive to set up but produces better harvests and uses less labor. It’s essentially factory work. We just perpetuate the present system by using foreign labor.

    More spin from the NY Times about the border surge, something they denied was an emergency a month ago: “The number of migrant families crossing the southwest border has once again broken records, with unauthorized entries nearly doubling what they were a year ago, suggesting the Trump administration’s aggressive policies have not discouraged new migration to the United States”.

    Horse ####. It’s not Trump’s policies that have failed, but the fact that they have been undermined by liberal courts, open border advocates in Congress, and a media determined to portray them as callous and uncaring. Some illegal shows up at the border on death’s door and then it’s our fault they died. Congress, at the demand of Democrats, limits the number of beds in border facilities, knowing that any overflow will simply be released inside this country. Hard to have his policies “discourage” anyone when the other side works overtime to see they are ineffective.

  5. avatar

    H1-B, H-2A, it’s all part of the same bowl of Cheap Labor Alphabet Soup! Employers at every wage level and job classification want to throw their fellow Americans Under the Bus, and they bribe Congress to do it. Richard Shelby [Stinkin’ RINO – AL] added a rider to that atrocious funding bill that Trump just signed that increased H-2A visas. I’m sure “Big AG” in Alabama and throughout the nation rewarded this sell-out amply with “campaign donations!”