Yuma, AZ

Illegal immigration surge in this Arizona city could lead to a national lettuce shortage

Jalyn Smoot

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YUMA, Ariz. - Two Arizona farmers raised concerns about migrant crossings contaminating their crops as migrants walk over their fields from the U.S.-Mexico border, Fox News reported Monday.

The farmers, who are based in Yuma, Arizona, said migrants entering the state through gaps in the border wall may contaminate crops they pass through, which could jeopardize the nation’s food supply since farmers flag any produce that may have been in contact with different pathogens.

There's obviously a food safety concern because our fields are monitored and audited and tested for different pathogens," Pasquinelli Produce Company President Alex Muller told Fox News. "If there's somebody that walks into our field and then we don't know about why we put up flags and kind of mark it out and we don’t harvest that."

According to the Department of Agriculture, Yuma produces nearly 90% of the country's romaine and iceberg lettuce, making it the agricultural leader in the production of leafy greens during the winter months.

It supplies roughly 9 billion servings of leafy greens per year but could see that figure reduce sharply if that illegal migration is not contained soon.

With so many crops being tossed due to the pathogen risk that illegal migration causes, lettuce and other leafy greens are struggling to meet the national demand.

That hits the bottom line," Muller said. "It's not sustainable. It's not good for the country." 

This sudden shortage of lettuce and other veggies has led to a price spike at grocery stores and Americans are feeling the toll.

It's just ridiculous," Regina Smith, a former Missouri public school educator, said to me. "Everything is so high."

Smith, 57, works in administration and said that making ends meet is more difficult than ever.

You can barely get a full meal from Walmart without being charged an arm and a leg," Smith said. "One hundred dollars at the grocery store doesn't stretch you like it used to."

With hopes to reduce unauthorized border crossings in Arizona and Texas, President Biden recently approved a mobile app that makes legal immigration much simpler.

The app, called CBP One, is available in English and Spanish and will allow migrants in Central and Northern Mexico who upload biographical information and a photo to request an appointment at one of eight ports in California, Arizona, and Texas.

The strategy attempts to tighten regulations for people crossing the southern border and will put more of an emphasis on helping migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

With the new plan in place, in addition to the CBP One App, Biden advised asylum seekers to apply online before arriving at the border.

Do not, do not just show up at the border,” Biden said. "Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”

Hopefully, for Arizona farmers and grocery shoppers alike, these changes will lead to less illegal immigration, which is jeopardizing the nation's food security.

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Dallas, TX

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