FASTrack Learning Community

Foundations for Academic Success Track

Beth Sherbo, “Illegal Labor: A Benefit to the Economy”

Beth Sherbo is being recognized for critical thinking, ethical source-use/appropriate citation, and the understanding that effective argumentation involves balance, respect, and academic precision. In FASTrack writing projects, students are often given opportunities to explore complex, controversial issues. In her Writing 101 position argument, Sherbo took advantage of such an opportunity, and her essay on the deportation of illegal agricultural workers in the U.S. breaks free of conventional clichés (e.g., empty emotional appeals to patriotism) in presenting a compelling, fact-based argument on the economic effects of worker-deportation.

Reflecting on her learning, Sherbo notes:

Writing the argumentative research paper was a valuable experience for my academic learning process. I practiced citation skills which are extremely important to avoid both plagiarism and even “sloppy citation.” Rather than simply explaining a certain topic that I researched, for this project I was able to argue one side of the topic. Through this I gained knowledge on how to effectively argue my point of view in a respectful and persuasive manner. . . . Throughout completing this project, with helpful tips from a librarian, I enhanced my skills of searching for credible and useful sources. Having useful sources can make a big difference when it comes to effectively arguing a specific point.

Read an excerpt from “Illegal Labor: A Benefit to the Economy”:

One of the major problems with removing undocumented workers from farms is the effect on the price and supply of goods that are produced on these farms. With nearly 67% of the crop worker population made up of illegal workers, deportation of these workers can have drastic effects on the outcome of harvest season (Martin 471). The production of the fruits and vegetable crops that people are accustomed to are immensely reliant on the labor of numerous workers to complete agricultural tasks. As claimed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), many of the popular vegetables grown in Arizona, for example, require more than 100 hours of labor per acre of the crop (Wishon et al. 25). If farmers are unable to hire enough workers to plant, care for, and harvest crops, food prices will rise for multiple reasons. According to the co-founder of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, Ben Shute, prices will increase due to the needed wage increase to attract new, native-born workers and to abide by American labor laws. Removal of the majority of the agricultural workforce would also raise the price of produce due to the short supply of goods resulting from fewer farm hands (Shute).

One specific case study from 2011 shows the effects from reforms such as the E-Verify system. Once E-Verify was set in place, monitoring the citizenship of workers, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) found that the agriculture workforce was decreased by 30%-50%, causing an estimated loss of $140 million across all crops (Milkovich). If Americans are fond of cheap, fresh produce in their local supermarkets, they may want to reconsider their negative views on the employment of undocumented workers in agricultural occupations.