The flow of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States has slowed down in recent years, which has put American farmers in a bind as they seek workers to harvest their crops.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that farmers who relied for years on illegal immigrants to man their fields are now turning to the guest worker program and other legal means.
Companies have set up offices in several parts of Mexico to recruit workers for H-2A visas. There is no annual cap on the number of those visas that can be issued.
Some of the workers live and work in the U.S. with their visas, while others who live just across from Yuma, Arizona in Mexico, for example, travel into the U.S. every day, using their visa document to gain entry for a day's work.
"The money is triple for me, and for some others more than 10 times what they would make in Mexico," 39-year-old Humberto Ruiz Silva said.
The Post cited data from the Center for Immigration Studies that showed the average pay rate for H-2A visa holders is $12.01 per hour, significantly higher than Mexico's rate of $5 per day. The federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour.
CSI Visa Processing has seen an influx of visa applications arrive at its many offices in Mexico from people looking for work in the U.S., the Post reported. The company placed 35,000 workers in 2018, up from 20,000 in 2010.
When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, meanwhile, it was reported farmers were starting to use automated crop pickers that were more productive than human workers as illegal immigration continued to drop.
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