Importing Poverty?

Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural America

Philip Martin

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June 10, 2014
264 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
9 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300209761
Paper

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American agriculture employs some 2.5 million workers during a typical year, most for fewer than six months. Three fourths of these farm workers are immigrants, half are unauthorized, and most will leave seasonal farm work within a decade. What do these statistics mean for farmers, for laborers, for rural America?

This book addresses the question by reviewing what is happening on farms and in the towns and cities where immigrant farm workers settle with their families. Philip Martin finds that the business-labor model that has evolved in rural America is neither desirable nor sustainable. He proposes regularizing U.S. farm workers and rationalizing the farm labor market, an approach that will help American farmers stay globally competitive while also improving conditions for farm workers.

Philip Martin is professor of agricultural and resource economics, University of California, Davis; chair of the UC Comparative Immigration and Integration Program; and editor of the quarterlies Migration News and Rural Migration News. He is the author of Managing Labor Migration in the Twenty-First Century, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Davis, CA.

"Philip L. Martin ranks as one of the most distinguished American students of international migration. This highly accessible volume builds on more than three decades of sustained inquiry into the effects of international migration upon rural America. Martin's often disturbing findings should alarm Americans. And his wise public policy recommendations should be heeded by the next U.S. president and Congress."—Mark J. Miller, Emma Smith Morris Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware

"Martin situates the current immigration debate within a complex analysis of the history of labor migration in our country and the special lessons to be learned from understanding the plight of migrant farm workers. This is a book that everyone interested in a rational approach to the national immigration debate should read."—Daniel Rothenberg, DePaul University College of Law, author of With These Hands

“Philip Martin, the nation’s foremost authority on agricultural labor issues, links agriculture’s employment practices to the endemic difficulties their presence causes for rural community development.  More importantly, he provides policy alternatives that promise far more beneficial outcomes.”—Vernon M. Briggs, Jr., Professor Emeritus of  Labor and Industrial Relations, Cornell University

“This excellent book is about immigration and agriculture—the toughest nut to crack in the struggle for immigration reform. Martin presents an alternative to the ‘revolving door’ farm labor market that absorbs newcomers (often illegal) for a few years until they then move on to find better US jobs. Instead of having this influx from abroad, Martin’s thoughtful book lays out a plan to subsidize labor-saving mechanization that will still keep US agriculture competitive in a globalizing word. During my Senate career working with immigration, whenever Phil Martin testified at a hearing—we all listened! It is so important to do that here.”—Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator, Wyoming (Retired)
Managing Labor Migration in the Twenty-First Century

Philip Martin, Manolo Abella, and Christiane Kuptsch

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