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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This Illegal Immigration Thing

I was really avoiding this topic because I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand I understand the anti-illegal immigration stand in that it is simply against the law to enter the country outside of legal pathways. That's a no brainer to me. That's is what makes the immigration illegal. On the other hand I understand the "give me your poor" and "This used to be Mexico" angle. America with the exception of the Natives is a country of immigrants and therefore persons who act like they are somehow "native" to America and think they should dictate who should come in and who should not are out of line. Indeed a lot of people are nativist.

I am the type of person who can see that the real argument should not be about who comes in (which is typically couched in "racist" terms), but the means which they come in and what happens when they get here. Let me say at the outset that I do not support the current legislation that would criminalize giving aide (in terms of medicine, food, housing. etc) to illegal immigrants. That is simply inhumane and most importantly, is not the actual problem.

Lets also debunk a particular argument used by pro "immigrant" persons: Illegal immigrants pay taxes. Now from what I understand, an Illegal immigrant does not have a Social Security Number. Therefore the person legally and for tax purposes does not exist. If such a person is hired the employer is not reporting that persons employment and therefore they are not paying the state and federal taxes. If this is incorrect then there has to be some kind of conspiracy between employers and the state to let that happen. Thus assuming the above to be true, Illegals are NOT paying state-federal taxes. Secondly the fact that illegals pay Sales taxes does not mean that they are entitled to services. Tourists pay sales taxes too. Out of state people pay sales taxes too, yet neither of these persons are eligible for residency in the state where the sales tax is payed. Similarly, an American in Mexico who pays Mexican sales tax (if they have it) could not use that as the basis for legal status. So let's just toss those arguments out because they are pretty specious and distract from the real issue.

Lastly, some people are asking for "clearer paths" to citizenship. I really don't think there needs to be a "clearer path." the path is particularly clear. You go to the embassy apply for a visa. Get the Visa, arrange transportation. Once in the country, present yourself to the appropriate agency and do whatever it is they require. Pretty clear. The actual problem is that for a variety of reasons persons choose not to go through the paths laid out. This post is not going to explore those reasons though.

So then what is the issue? Jobs. Anyone who has eyes to see will tell you that when it comes to many types of physical labor "hispanics" are all over the place. Whether that labor is in Hotels, cleaning rooms, doing maintenance or cooking in kitchens, there is a very high number of "hispanics" doing this job (I have no clue to the status of these individuals and I don't want to imply that these persons are illegal immigrants). On construction jobs, even those dead smack in 90% black neighborhoods will have "hispanics" doing all manner of physical work, with white anglo men giving directions and a handful (if that) of black men on the job. Of course we have the typical or stereotypical lawn care industry in which a large percentage of the workers are "hispanic." We have had reports that show that Walmart has been subcontracting maintenance crews for their stores. Some of these companies hire illegal immigrants with sub-standard wages in order to give the lowest bids. This is THE problem.

Illegal Immigrants are used by Corporations to depress wages in certain low-skilled but physically intensive work. For an Illegal the prospect of any US Dollar wage is far more than they could earn in the country (50% come from Mexico) of their origin. Yet for life in the US such wages are insufficient. So we have a problem. Americans supposedly do not want to do the jobs that the illegals (and legals) are taking. This is probably true to an extent. However, a large reason why such jobs are not wanted is because of the poverty wages that they offer. Such jobs, prior to the waves of illegal immigration was the type of job that teens and others just out of High School may have taken. Now they are being taken by grown people which in essence displaces entry level work that used to represent the starting points for US citizens. So while their is merit to the "jobs gringos don't want" argument, the issue of depressed wages needs to be addressed as well.

Along with this is a phenomenon that may be only my own observation. As hispanics move into "the jobs gringos don't want" they tend to hire people they are most comfortable with (which is natural) or those they feel they need to look out for: other "Hispanics." Now that presents another problem: Lock out. Where I live the entire maintenance crew is Hispanic. Every ancillary service that comes in is also Hispanic. In terms of groundskeeping there is a local black (American) company that does landscaping. the only time I see that company doing work near where I live is when a black family contracts them for work on their property. Yes they do an excellent job. So the question I have is how come they have not received a contract or some other vendor status to do work for the complex where I live? There are many possibilities, but I believe that a part of the problem is lock out.

So what should be done? In my opinion, the current law winding it's way through Congress needs to be trashed. What needs to happen is the enforcement of current law:
a) it is illegal to traffic in people, lets enforce that law.
b) It is illegal to cross the border except at approved points with the intent of immigrating. Enforce that law as well.
c) It is a legal requirement for registered companies to pay laborers less than minimum wage. Enforce that law. In fact I say we amend it to revoke the business status of any company that is found breaking this law as well as it's owners /operators.
d) if it isn't already, require companies that subcontract out work to require certification of compliance with labor laws. Specifically no contractor should be able to use undocumented workers. This should put a halt on the downward pressure on wages because a company could not get contracts while having undocumented workers on staff.
e) in conjunction with d, the IRS needs to make examples out of companies who's output exceeds what is possible by their reported employees. If a company is doing construction and is doing 300 man hours but only declares employees that can do 100 man hours then there is a problem. There should be an auditing team to sort through paperwork.

Basically, end the incentives for illegal immigration. A person who comes here illegally (from anywhere) won't get work (the prime reason to come to the states). You hire a maid who's not documented and YOU may the price for it. A company that wants to stay in business needs to be afraid of what will happen to it for employing persons. The immigrant should not be seen as a pariah for being an immigrant. Those who provide aid to immigrants should not be criminalized. The criminal behavior of those who exploit the immigrant should be penalized. This is like how prostitution is dealt with in Sweden. Prostitutes are not treated as criminals, the Johns are. They tackle the exploitation of women by dealing with the exploiters rather than those vulnerable to exploitation.

There also needs to be a political issue brought up with Hispanic community leaders. Although I'm sure that there are many black men and women who are caught up in Bling and drug dealing, there are also people who are willing to work who are locked out. It is simply unacceptable that there may be a lock out of jobs by "hispanic" companies. Such a thing would be called "institutional racism" if Anglos did it, but it appears to be accepted here. I think Sharpton had it right when he fell out with Ferrer about political respect. If this kind of lock out continues, and I suspect it will, then blacks will be on the losing side due to their lack of cohesion and a bad attitude (historically understandable) towards physical labor.

Let us be clear. There is a problem of Illegal immigration and we should not, in black communities, simply label people who see the problem and object as "racist." there are jobs being displaced there are possibly whole industries on lock. The solution does not lie in criminalizing good samaritan behavior, it lies in addressing the exploitation of workers by businesses and dealing with apparent unfair practices of those groups that largely host the immigrants.


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was moved to read this post based on my interest on immigration matters. But this long treatise was a woefully uninformed one - I had to cringe and stop when you delineated the "clear path to immigration". Uh.... not quite. Please move out of your American privilege and entitlement long enough to do some research- don't just rely on uninformed supposition

sondjata said...

I'm not clear about your comment. I didn't just make up the legal path to immigration I followed what is the legal pathway. You travel you get a visa that visa says you can stay wherever for x amount of time for y purpose. If you want to remain in the states you need to file the proper paperwork. Nothing "privileged" about it. I said right in the post that I'm not trying to discuss the pros or cons of the legal process, just to state that there is a pretty clear one that some people choose not to go through (for varied reasons).

Not only that, but I stated repeatedly that these issues are simply not THE problem they are mere distractions put up by people on both sides to deflect attention from the real issue: downward pressure on certain service jobs by means of exploitation of undocumented workers and the resultant, in my opinion,lock out of citizens from those fields.
On the subject of entitlement (def: the fact of having the right to something) is not a problem. I expect that the people of Venezuela have entitlements that I would not have as a foreigner. I expect that the citizens of France have entitlements that I would not have. I expect that the citizens of Nigeria have entitlements that I would not have as a non-citizen. I expect that in a family there are certain entitlements that members have that non-members do not have. Entitlements are not, in and of themselves, some evil thing.

So if you have some data to add or a specific point to make (and I've left plenty of room for dispute in the original post) then do so, but please refrain from the textbook "left-speak" it doesn't add much to the important subject, much like the comment.