The Immigration and Job Loss Debate
A debate that always seems to raise its ugly head when the issue of "foreign labor" is discussed concerns the types of jobs that immigrants take and whether they are actually taking these jobs away from American workers. I look at it as jobs they are "left with", not ones they are taking. The debate always shows an American family that has been displaced or lost their livelihood because they can no longer compete with cheaper labor. In reality the jobs that the immigrants get are the most undesirable, strenuous and dangerous ones. The only American workers that they compete with are the unskilled ones. I intend to explore if immigrants "taking" American jobs, if they are only taking the jobs that Americans don’t want or are they being forced to take certain jobs in specific industries.
As seen in Cooper’s article; The Heartland’s Raw Deal: How Meatpacking is Creating a New Immigrant Underclass, we see how companies have taken advantage and exploited the workers willing to work for less. These companies have tapped into the supply of labor that is willing to work for less than union wages. As a result of the de-unionization of the meat-packing industry, companies that were paying union wages as high as $30,000 a year were able to turn right around and hire all new workers for as little as $6. per hour. This is a big difference in pay for the same exact work. Sure, many American workers were willing to do the work, just not for the minimal wages. The meatpacking industry was able to increase profits at the expense of the American workers. The debate about whether the immigrants "took" those jobs from the American workers needs to be re-addressed to the companies that took advantage of the "cheap labor". Are the immigrants just willing to work for the lower wages or are these the only jobs they qualify for?
We see immigrants in the restaurant industry, not as chefs but as dishwashers and busboys. We see them in the agriculture sector as migrant workers doing literally backbreaking work of weeding and picking our fruits and vegetables so we can purchase them at low prices. We use immigrants as gardeners and groundskeepers and expect them to work outside, in Phoenix, in 100 plus degrees. I don’t think any of "us" could tolerate the conditions that they work under. They clean our schools, our offices and our stores. They get security jobs on the shifts that American workers don’t want, night watchmen. They take the construction jobs from companies that avoid paying union wages. These opportunities are presented by American companies that are only interested in their bottom line. The desire to hire immigrant workers, documented or undocumented, is out of the greed of profit-driven corporate America. The fact that Immigrant laborers are desperate for work is exploited by the very companies that promote lower prices for consumers, American consumers. An irony of sorts. We pay lower wages so we can have lower...