For those who have to deal with illegal immigrants on a daily basis, the reality is far from the myths perpetuated by the American press. Illegal immigration is a serious problem undermining the way of life in many small towns across the United States. The truth is easy to find, but only if a person wants objective answers.
This is the first of a three part series on illegal immigration and it should serve as a wake up call to all those that have never set foot in a manufacturing plant and lack any first hand experience with the circumstances illegal workers face. For the record, I am not sure what the long term solution should be, but hijacking American Labor and regulatory laws while enslaving illegal aliens is a solution that is simply not right.
Part 1- Myth: Mexicans are doing work Americans don't want to do. One of the worst places for a person to make a living would have to be a hog processing plant. The smells, blood and guts make for a nasty place to be. It should come as no surprise that hog processing plants in the mid-west traditionally have trouble finding workers.
Managers of these plants turned to illegal labor simply to fill the jobs that no one else wanted. In the early stages, wages were still fairly high even to illegals. This changed when plant managers discovered they could offer lower wages and still attract a large number of illegal workers. As a practical matter, it was pointed out to management that plants in the mid-west were in close proximity to Mexico and illegal workers interested in staying closer to home would be willing to work at lower rates. Even at the Federally mandated minimum wage, the average illegal Mexican worker is making nearly ten times what he could make in Mexico. If this sounds like the companies involved approached this problem in a systematic and cost conscious manner, it's because they did.
Plant managers and their staffs receive part of their compensation in the form of bonuses tied to performance. Another term for performance is efficiency. As labor costs dropped management bonuses increased.
Supervisors in the hog processing plants complained that they were unable to communicate with the illegal Mexicans. Management's solution was Spanish speaking supervisors. Initially, illegal Mexicans were used as supervisors as they worked cheap and to be blunt, were very harsh taskmasters to the illegal Mexican employees they supervised. It takes no intelligence to recognize that supervisory jobs are good jobs, actively sought by American workers. In order to limit legal liability and mask this situation, many plants turned to sub-contracting, opting to use companies owned and operated by illegal Mexicans. This cut wages even further while passing supervisory responsibility to the subcontractor. Using a sub-contractor limits a companyâ€™s legal liability and eliminated litigation with disgruntled employees either passed over for promotion or laid off when their jobs were out-sourced to the sub-contractor.
These decisions were not made in a vacuum. Management rationalized correctly that since the U.S. Government wasn't enforcing ANY immigration laws, there was no reason to limit the use of illegal labor. Specifically, extending the use of illegal labor into others areas did not expose the company to any additional risk. This is nothing more than a logical extension of the original decision to use illegal labor. To make sure the federal government's enforcement policies aren't changed, PACs representing the manufacturing interests mentioned above, have made large contributions to members of Congress.
This situation is not unique to large companies. The owner of a residential painting company in North Carolina had six American employees. When quoting prices for painting jobs, this owner has to pay overtime, minimum wages, adhere to OSHA and EPA regulations. The business started losing work when their quotes were coming in higher than the competition. The painting company owner eventually came to the realization that he would have to cut his labor costs by using cheap illegal labor or he simply wouldnâ€™t be able to compete. Six Americans lost their jobs.
The Painting company owner is now "sub-contracting" for labor to a company run by an illegal Mexican immigrant who has no qualms about paying workers under the table while ignoring OSHA safety procedures, overtime laws, minimum wage laws etc. There is simply no way to catch this illegal employer. He withholds no taxes or social security and carries no employees on his rolls. The illegals he hires do not file tax returns and are unable to complain. No systematic means exists to locate or track illegal workers in this situation. It should be noted that these are the reasons illegal Mexicans are cheaper to hire than Americans.
The most disturbing aspect of this situation is the denial of entry-level jobs to Americans. Only about 23% of the American workforce are college educated. This can easily be verified on any number of web sites dealing with higher education. Of the 77% of high school graduates who do not graduate from college, many look for entry level jobs in a trade with the goal of starting their own business. Unfortunately, the entry-level jobs are now being done by Illegal Mexican laborers. And the Mexicans are doing exactly what their American counterparts did in the past: train on the job and then start their own business. Remarkably, the press seems to revel in the work ethic of these illegal workers while totally ignoring the effect on Americans. A whole generation of tax paying American Businesses is being replaced by businesses owned and operated by illegal Mexican immigrants that are not withholding federal, state, local and social security taxes nor are these companies adhering to U.S. Labor laws.
The message is really simple: Illegal Mexican workers are taking jobs and opportunities away from Americans. It is elitist and arrogant to assume otherwise. The illegals aren't trying to write for the Washington Post or be the next ABC news anchor, but they are taking jobs that many Americans want. Further, the illegals are interfering with the upward mobility of American workers by limiting the American workerâ€™s ability to enter the workforce. And it is disingenuous to assume business leaders aren't driving this process.
Part 2: Illegal Immigration