July 20, 12:53 PM
Illegal immigration is one of those issues that we file under vexing. It vexes us. And part of our frustration lies in our conflicting attitudes over it. We're told immigrants crossing our border illegally are coming here to work and make a better life for themselves. That's a story as old as America itself so we empathize with what has been a great tradition in our country.
But we're told they're taking jobs from legal American citizens, a notion we find wholly unfair. Yet, the same people who complain about that also complain about welfare fraud and the number of those same American citizens who cheat the system on the taxpayer's dime all because they choose not to work, a notion we find wholly unethical.
We hear of Americans who do want to work but can't get the work because employers would rather hire illegals for less money, which we find utterly greedy and downright unpatriotic. American employers --members of the free market system we love to champion as a paragon of American success-- saving money by paying lower wages to those who don't deserve to be here without passing on those savings to consumers who should benefit from cheaper wages through lower prices thereby. Meanwhile, the American citizen denied a job, applies for government assistance, paid for not only by the taxpayer who doesn't save money through cheaper products via lower wages, but paid for by the employer as well, who thought he could save money by not hiring American citizens.
Unions don't rush to protect their members who are denied jobs at construction sites in the hope that the illegals who come here will remain here, become regularized here and join the union given that membership in labor unions has fallen to unprecedented levels.
Democrats, who complain about laws violating the privacy of Americans, say nothing when those same Americans are denied the right to earn a day's pay. They prattle on about principals of equity and fairness yet play favorites with illegals at the expense of the legal so they as not to offend a growing Latino population they plan to register as party voters.
Republicans defy their traditional conservative principles of patriotism, nationalism and champions of the free enterprise model all to placate the businesses that benefit from cheap labor at the expense of the fanatical patriots who support their party.
Others who have jobs moonlight as forgers to supply fake IDs for illegals, yet critics will blame the illegal and not the forger, even though both broke the law. Yet those same critics, the American public, hire more illegals for day labor than does any other sector of the American economy. Let me say that another way: The largest employer of illegals is the average American homeowner. Your neighbor getting the lawn mowed, the house painted, the drywall installed or the roof repaired: 49 percent of all day laborers are hired by homeowners and home renters.
We want our yards mowed, houses cleaned, homes built, food served, produce picked and processed, and menial jobs tended to, and we want our borders secure (from those who are willing to do these jobs because, good gravy, what part of illegal don't you understand?
We often hear people say "Buy American!" but instead we prefer to buy for less.
Our own federal government acknowledges the illegal immigration problem yet, enables it. Illegals by the thousands flooded into post-Katrina New Orleans to clean out, tear down and rebuild a devastated city, and while the Davis-Bacon Act requires that a wage equal to the prevailing union wage in the community be paid to all workers, the federal government waived the law, making it legal to pay the majority of illegals nearly 40 percent less than the wage paid to legal workers.
Yet the government is happy to collect Social Security taxes from illegals with phony Social Security numbers knowing those illegals will never collect a dime from Social Security --a free tax for Uncle Sam.
Why weren't those jobs being held by New Orleans natives who lost homes and jobs? Was it because they were displaced? Why would that stop them? Was it just easier to get a free place to live, even if it was a trailer? Was it because those jobs were tough, dirty and dangerous, or was it because unscrupulous employers would rather hire illegal immigrants who could be paid sub-par wages in cash without following the labor laws of the United States.
Even when the promise of a solution is presented thanks to technological advances, we have resistance. Come September, E-Verify will become the official policy of the United States government. Employers who receive federal contracts will have to use the electronic system to check the legal status of their employees.
Yet, such paragons of free enterprise like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the editors of the Wall Street Journal, 100 percent accurate and no system on Earth is good enough to handle this problem. The Journal's editor's think Barack Obama and former President George Bush are wrong to blame employers for illegal immigration into the United States; yet their answer at a time of severe economic contraction is to increase legal immigration quotas to compete against illegal immigrants rather than insuring that American businesses hire American workers.oppose E-Verify, warning that the program isn't
How do we can reconcile all these diametrically opposed pieces of the puzzle together? When you hear all these facts working at cross purposes from all sides, it's hard to say we aren't just a little bit two-faced. Who or where shall we place blame?
Here's the problem: No significant group in our society has enough of a self-interest in illegal immigrants do something about it. Not the unions, not the politicians (save a few who occasionally make noise), not city governments with their sanctuary city policies, not businesses that hire illegals, not even the average taxpayer. Everybody's got an excuse why they can't. We seem to be completely incapable of effectively dealing with the problem of illegal immigration, apparently because we don't want to.
No. 1 employers of day laborers? Homeowners
Use of illegal immigrant workers becoming mainstream in U.S.
updated 3:04 p.m. ET April 29, 2006
BURBANK, Calif. - Chris James needed help moving a piano and three dozen boxes of records from his music studio, but instead of corralling some buddies he rented a truck and hired day laborers outside the local Home Depot.
The two Guatemalan men finished the job in an hour and a half, hauling a piano and wedging a sofa into his condo, then stacking the boxes in a back room, for less than $40.
It was first time James hired day laborers but it won’t be his last.
July 21, 2009
By Michael Fitzgerald
April 09, 2008 6:00 AM
Crossing illegally into California for work, then coming to Stockton during this recession seems like ducking ocean liner fare by stowing away on the Titanic.
Yet they come. They always will, to every sizable city, in good times or bad. Here they gather by the Gateway McDonald's, hoping for work. That's a problem.
The city spent millions on the Gateway project because the downtown Stockton offramp, the city's gateway, gives many visitors their first impression of the city.
The idea was to spruce it up. Instead, "When people first come into Stockton, what do they see?" asked the mayor's assistant, Dennis Smallie. " 'Oh my God, it's unsafe.' "
Now the owner of the Mickey D's says the laborers scare off business. One man told me he drove his utility truck into the lot, craving a burger; six guys surrounded him.
Moreover, the current spot, improvised and unwelcoming, is as inhumane as it is poorly located. But what sort of place to provide, if any, is controversial.
Luis Magaña, an activist trying to help the laborers, says they deserve a building outfitted with bathrooms, water, seating, computers, even an on-site manager.
Others say tax dollars should not go to illegals. Some of these objectors - I'm sorry - hide nativism behind legal arguments.
Others have a legitimate point. Like Rick Fernandes. Fernandes is in construction. He has five employees, a shop, overhead.
"I've got a city license, a state contractor's license, liability insurance, workers' comp, auto insurance," Fernandes said. "My construction business - because the housing market's down - is hurt. Then I'm losing jobs to people who don't have licenses."
Fernandes says he lost four jobs last month to these undocumented, unlicensed crews. So you can guess how he feels about pouring tax dollars into a day labor center.
Crafting a fair solution is not easy. Still, a city that can site innumerable halfway houses for the mentally ill, parolees, even the criminally insane can find room for guys who want to work.
It need not be a Taj Mahal. Smallie points to Public Architecture, a San Francisco firm. It sells a $50,000 Day Labor Station, sort of like a field construction office with benches and awnings outside.
This project seems a perfect opportunity to recruit partners. Religious leaders should be asked if their flocks could offer anything from doughnuts and coffee once per month to more substantial commitments. That reduces taxpayer cost.
Heck, I'd even ask Mexico if it has any programs or pesos to contribute. Dollars Mexicans send home are vital to the Mexican economy, after all.
Magaña said he's pursuing that angle with a Mexican consular officer in Sacramento. The city might want to as well.
Relocating the day laborers need not require major subsidies to an underground economy. Just the minimum necessary to protect the Gateway investment and keep everybody safe.
Day Labor in the United Statesｐｄｆ
Our findings reveal that the day-labor market is rife with violations of workers’ rights.
Day laborers are regularly denied payment for their work, many are subjected to demonstrably
hazardous job sites, and most endure insults and abuses by employers. The growth of day-labor
hiring sites combined with rising levels of workers’ rights violations is a national trend that
warrants attention from policy makers at all levels of government.