Yakima Valley's economy could take a hit if immigrants are forced to leave in March
YAKIMA, Wash.- $1.65 billion dollars. That's how much Yakima County made in 2014 from all its crop sales.
Which such a large amount of money, it's easy to see that agriculture is one of the driving forces of the county's economy.
That includes the valley's famous apples and cherries. Luz Bazen Gutierrez with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said it all wouldn't have been sold without help from the people gathering them in the fields.
“Without the immigrant and Latino workers here in the valley we wouldn't have an economy,” she said.
Gutierrez said Yakima saw how important immigrants are with the shortage of workers on farms this past harvest.
In Central Washington, immigrant workers make up over 70 percent of the workforce in agriculture and are a big part of the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries as well.
However, some of those people are in danger of being sent away if congress doesn't find a way to reform the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.
District four Representative Dan Newhouse said it wouldn't make sense to send back those who have already lived here for so long.
“Many of them are working hard to contribute to their communities to improve their lives and by extension ours too,” he said.
According to New American Economy, over 28,000 people are DACA-eligible in Washington State and they have paid more than $53 million in state and local taxes.
If they get sent back to other countries, Gutierrez said the effects are going to go beyond the farms.
“They aren't farm workers. They are professionals,” she said. “They are already in the workforce and they are already working.”
DACA was repealed by President Donald Trump earlier this year and congress has until March to work out a reform.