That kind of analysis doesn't account for subsidies and import restrictions benefiting the dairy industry (there is no real free market for ag in the US) or the other kinds of substitution effects (like the unskilled labor vs. mechanization tradeoff).
It wasn't really an analysis so much as an observation of facts on the ground. Even with subsidies and other benefits, the dairy industry needs to illegal immigrants to make a profit. The market speaks, even in a heavily republican district. Everyone can be all anti-immigrant until you have to sell the family farm when your labor gets deported.
Even at a local level the tradeoff is more complicated than that-- undocumented workers do support local economies by patronizing local businesses but are a drain in others (they often live in federally subsidized housing i.e. don't pay property taxes and send their kids to local schools which are primarily paid for by local property taxes)
In this community they are critical.
The mayor, though, was impressively enlightened when it came to Sibley’s immigrant population. Perhaps because of the Nunes debacle, he invited me to his office to talk to him and the city administrator, Glenn Anderson. “I told him to go see Nunes, and that didn’t go very good,” he told Anderson as we sat down.
https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a ... alifornia/
Anderson voted for Trump, but he exploded every Trump myth about immigration. The rise in Sibley’s Hispanic population hasn’t been accompanied by a rise in crime. Most of the crime in Sibley is connected to drug-related traffic stops on Highway 60, he said. Kevin Wollmuth, a deputy in the county sheriff’s office, told me that the rise in immigration “doesn’t have any bearing on our crime rate at all.”
...I hope ICE stays the hell away from Sibley. The immigration system that powers Iowa’s dairies is undoubtedly broken. The dairy owners live with the ever-present fear of becoming the next Mike Millenkamp. The undocumented workers live in the shadows and, especially in the era of Trump and zero tolerance, constantly fear arrest and deportation. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress, including Devin Nunes (per his CaRepublican website), have decided that unwavering support for ICE is crucial to their efforts to attack Democrats and help the GOP keep control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections. Naturally, the prospect of passing legislation that would create a guest-worker program for dairy workers who are undocumented—an idea overwhelmingly supported by the industry—is a fantasy in the current environment; Trump, King, and their allies describe such policies as “amnesty.” The Washington debate is completely detached from what is actually going on in places like Sibley.
LOL at the idea that anyone who writes for Esquire understands the economics of labor at all-- their argument assumes that the dairy industry has no power to increase prices.
The three options that dairy farmers face probably look something like this:
1. Pay labor contractors the equivalent of minimum wage to recruit illegal labor. The illegal labor doesn't get the entire amount. The greater the supply of illegal labor, the more the labor contractor gets to keep. This is the minimum cost option for dairy farmers. Currently, the risk of getting caught and losing your labor in a raid is pretty low. That could change based on enforcement. And if the dairy farmer decides not to pay his labor? They show up anyway hoping to get paid next week, at least for a while.
2. Pay guest workers at least minimum wage, their ability to demand higher wages is largely dependent on guest worker supply. This is a higher cost option for dairy farmers. The risk of losing your labor in a raid is zero.
3. Pay American workers the market rate for temporary work in rural communities. This is the highest cost option partially because they are the least likely to show up for work and the most likely to call in stoned/back hurts/don't need money right now because they gots their EBT money/ don't have a car because it got repo'ed because they used it as collateral to finance a tattoo/morbidly obese and miss work on a regular basis. Their ability to hide from teh popo is the weakest because they are the most likely to be wearing trackers on their ankles.
Costwise, illegal labor wins in a landslide. The guest worker option was tried in the 70's (Cesar Chavez et al...). Facing the risk of strikes and having to pay higher wages, farmers mechanized their operations almost overnight, even though they had to pay 70's interest rates. My hometown went from a community that tripled during the summer to one that didn't even double within one year-- and it wasn't alone. Farmers didn't go broke because of it. The idea that dairy farmers are different has little basis in fact. The support for guest worker programs in the ag sector isn't real.
And FWIW, I'm pretty pro immigration. Facts still matter though.