Americans are lazy, and we need more employees (Illegal Immigration – Part 1)
One summer, early in my teen years, I got a job detasseling corn. I wanted a job so I could start saving money for college, and anyone could detassel corn. It was miserable, walking up and down corn fields all day. I had to be at the school around 6:30 in the morning, then the bus would drive us to some random corn field an hour or more away. I wore long sleeves to keep from being all cut up by the corn. First thing in the morning all the corn was coated with dew, and so my clothes would be immediately soaked and heavy. Later in the day it was hot, steamy, and eventually dry and dusty. I made a few hundred dollars that summer, and was grateful for it. The next couple of summers I got jobs babysitting and tutoring. Then I turned 16 and was finally old enough to get a real job. I applied everywhere; Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Blockbuster, Meijers, McDonalds, Burger King, Ritter’s Frozen Custard, The Dollar Store, South Bend Chocolate Factory, Tasty Freeze, random locally owned restaurants and stores, and at least half the stores in the local mall. I was 16, had finished my Junior Year of High School, a good student and willing to work hard. No one hired me. I called places back. I went and did several interviews. I spelled all the words right on my applications. I used good handwriting, and included a resume where they would accept one. I was willing to clean, cook, bus tables, whatever was needed. No one hired me.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006 Goshen, IN was 19.3% Hispanic. I am an American citizen, I was looking for a job, and I was willing to work. I couldn’t find a job. The closest McDonald’s to my high school was staffed almost entirely by Spanish speakers. Many people I knew refused to go there because they couldn’t understand the employees so the service was horrible.
Now, I often hear the argument that illegal immigrants are necessary to do the jobs Americans refuse to do.
This is not true.
That is the main reason I have heard for promoting vast amounts of immigration from Latin America. People complain that if all the illegal immigrants were fired or deported then the economy would collapse, businesses would close, employers wouldn’t have anyone willing to work, etc. I don’t think this is true. I have experienced being unable to get a low-income, low-skill job because of the ready availability of immigrants. If the illegal immigrants in my hometown were not there, then there would have been available work for me. Luckily, I was just a high school student, living at home without a real need for a job. But for every teenager or high school drop out that is displaced by an illegal immigrant worker, there are also people who need the jobs to support their families, but can’t get them.
I sincerely do not understand the argument that we need to allow illegal immigration to fill the jobs Americans are unwilling to do. The unemployment rate is 4.6% (2007 est.). (Much higher now, years after I wrote this.) The labor force is 153.1 million, 4.6% of which is over 7,000,000. Liberals complain about the unemployment rate, then say that we need immigrants to fill American jobs. They also say that people on welfare want to work and would work if they had the opportunity, but there aren’t any jobs available. So, which is it? Are there so many unfulfillable jobs that we need 12,000,000 to 30,000,000 illegal immigrants to fill them, or is America so short on jobs that we need the government to confiscate worker’s money so they can provide welfare benefits and unemployment to the people who really would be working if they had the chance? If it is true that people on welfare want jobs, then they should be willing to do the jobs available to them. If it is not true, then we should stop handing out welfare benefits so they don’t have to choose between free money and a job they don’t want. Either way, illegal immigrants are not necessary to keep the American economy running.
This argument also presupposes that Americans are so lazy and arrogant they refuse to take low-skill, degrading jobs. I think this is an unfair assumption. Before the surge of illegal immigrants there were people willing to work long, hard hours to provide for themselves. There are people willing to work in fields, willing to take undesirable positions. Is there something inherently different between Mexicans and Americans, that they are naturally unable to perform certain jobs? To believe that would be racist. I don’t think there is any difference, but we can assume for a moment that there is; Mexicans are willing to take jobs Americans will not. So, where would these differences come from? The difference would be in their work ethic; one group is willing to do work another is not, they are willing to work harder to support their families than Americans are. Where, exactly, would this inherent difference come from? Perhaps it is fostered in American attitudes that they don’t need to work hard, they can choose not to work and the government will provide for them. The Mexican government does not provide welfare benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, etc. So they have to work to provide for their families. This makes them willing to do work Americans won’t.
I think in either case the conservative perspective wins out. Conservatives think that illegal immigrants should not be allowed to live and work in America. They also believe that Welfare fosters dependancy and laziness. The argument that Mexicans are needed to fill jobs Americans refuse to do supports the second notion, and if the immigrants aren’t here then there will be more available jobs for the unemployed Americans.
I have also heard that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in America is the morally right thing to do. This stems from the compassionate liberal perspective; people are suffering from the poor economic conditions in other countries, so we should allow them come reap all the benefits afforded to Americans. I can understand that some people believe we are helping others by wanting to share America’s wealth with them, but the same people believe that there are already too many Americans living in poverty, who need health care coverage, who need jobs, better jobs or higher paying jobs. It is not possible for the government to support every immigrant who comes to America.
The ’moral’ argument stems from the fact that most of us are not Native Americans, so how can we justify not allowing others to come and benefit as our ancestors did? The fact (that Liberals completely ignore) is that there are laws regulating immigration. When our ancestors came they did it legally. I am mostly Irish, with some German, English and Native American. My Irish Ancestors came to America because of a famine in Ireland. They came to America legally. They landed and traveled to Indiana, where they bought land and farmed it. They learned English. They taught their children to farm, and when they made extra money they bought more land so they could farm more. They taught their children to work hard in school so they could go on to have created wealth, created jobs, and paid income and property taxes.
They did not collect welfare. They did collect free medical benefits. They did not break the laws. They did not collect social security. They did not rent and live twelve to an apartment. They did not mail all their money out of America so their families in Ireland could live comfortably. They did not take jobs from other Americans. They did not drain America of its resources. They contributed.
At that point the laws allowed for a large influx of immigrants. Having immigrants wasn’t going to result in a drain on the economy, because immigrants came to take advantage of the opportunities. Not welfare. Now the laws limit the number of immigrants, because resources have become more limited and government handouts have increased. People used to come to America and contribute to the economy. Now they come to America and drain our resources. Legal immigration allows for some people to come under certain circumstances. Laws allow families citizenship, families are stable and thus good for society. The laws allow for a certain number of student visas; people can come to America to study and learn, these people learn English and eventually get good jobs where they pay income taxes. People can apply for citizenship, they can wait and enter the country legally. These people come, learn English, follow the laws, get jobs and pay income taxes. Conservatives are often labeled as anti-immigration. They are not anti-immigration, they are anti-illegal immigration. I don’t mind people coming to America. I went to college with many Chinese students. They worked hard to excel and learn. I was able to learn a lot from them. I had one friend, Bo Duan, I studied with and partnered with in labs. I loved hearing him talk about China, especially Chinese food (I like food) and the Chinese government. I have another friend from France; she and her English husband are both here legally. I know another Swedish girl who married an American. I really enjoy talking to her about her government. Sweden is very socialist; she says she likes it, so I am interested in hearing her perspective. I have nothing against immigrants, I don’t know anyone who does. There is a world of difference between legal and illegal immigration. Conservatives are only against illegal immigration.