“Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It’s Off To Work We Go!”
How many undocumented workers are in the United States? Estimates range from 11 to 25 million. We need some history to understand why our immigration laws are in such a mess. The most important of our hundreds of immigration laws has never been enforced. That’s the one that says any employer who hires an undocumented worker is committing a felony and can be rewarded with a clanging jail cell door. Over three decades ago fat cat American corporations sent labor contractors called coyotes into Latin American countries to recruit cheap labor and bring them across the border--against immigration quotas and the law.
Corky and I wintered in Sun City West in Phoenix, Arizona a couple of times during the recruitment period and saw the beginning of this absolute disaster for our middle class wages in the U.S. Big growers and food processing plant corporations—particularly meat, eggs, and chicken--did not want to pay wages that would attract American workers. They flooded Mexico and other Latin American countries with labor coyotes. Millions of undocumented workers were hired to work in processing plants in dozens of states. That’s how the money rolled in for shareholders in New York City and Miami Beach.
I remember driving down streets of Phoenix in the morning. Street corners were flooded with undocumented waiting for vans to pick them up for their jobs. Sheriff Joe Arpio said he was going to conduct a two-year program and arrest employers who hired undocumented workers. He could have picked out 50 corporate vans any morning of the week and put their CEOs in jail. After two years of “searching” he gave up. Said he couldn’t find a single one! If just one of the Waltons of Walmart had been put in jail, that act would have put up an impenetrable border wall. The Walton family, the richest family in the world, has made billions off hiring the undocumented in the United States. So has every hotel and restaurant chain. CEOs do not like to hear the clang of jail doors.
How Do You Control immigration When Your Country Has 25,000 Miles of Border?
We hear a lot of political talk about fences and walls these days. We presently have a border of 25,000 miles around our large country, including a 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Only 654 miles are fenced, of which 354 miles might slow or deter pedestrians—for a few minutes. The rest, 300 miles, is designed to keep out vehicles. These fences cost north of $2 billion. The highest steel walls are 18 feet. They force a run on 20 ft. ladders or tunnel shovels. Drug cartels build medieval siege machines that can hurl huge bundles of pot and cocaine hundreds of feet over fences to drug runners on the other side. They have even built portable vehicle bridges to go over fences.
If there is anything more stupid than politicians proposing physical barriers to keep out illegal crossers let me know. Federal jails for employers are the only answer. If we put up 60 ft. concrete walls they will come around on 60 ft. boats to the East and West coasts. Homeland Security with our genius president as construction manager is talking about building a border wall prototype of reinforced concrete 30 feet long and 30 feet tall. When are they going to learn that a wall of employer law is better than a wall of concrete? Enforce the employer law by putting CEOs in jail and immigration problems will soon disappear. Ask the Enron boys how they enjoyed jail time.
What Will Happen If 12 Million Undocumented Don’t Show Up for Work?
The answer is our economy would collapse without the labor of the people coyotes convinced the U.S. was the land of milk, honey, and tacos. Republicans with their free market and low tax policies want their undocumented workers to work long hours carving meat and making beds--and then go to their home countries at night. They don’t want them to vote for Democrats after work. The fast food industry, hotels and motels, fruit and vegetable growers, and other labor-intensive industries would collapse. Despite all the yelling from politicians, the United States has become economically dependent upon a massive pool of low-paid, undocumented workers recruited by coyotes.
The Trump administration is trying to hide a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees during the last decade brought in $63 billion more than they had cost us. The study was based on the amount of federal, state, and local taxes paid by refugees.
Before CNN celebrity chef-host Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, he made these comments about our cruel immigration policy: “Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy in most U.S. cities would collapse overnight without Mexican workers.”
In 2017 the Pew Research Center estimated that at least 11% of workers in restaurants and bars, or at least 1.3 million people, were undocumented. According to Pew, 19% of the nation’s dishwashers and 17% of its “bussers” (table clearers) are undocumented. The Washington Post goes way beyond these figures. It claims that in major cities restaurant workforces are at least 75% foreign-born and that 30 to 40% are undocumented.
Our Great Leader Tries To Hire “Rapists” And “Animals” For His Businesses
Although we have no limit on the number of visas for foreign agricultural workers, large agribusiness corporations prefer undocumented instead of legal workers because they can screw them at paycheck time and threaten to fire them. The undocumented can’t complain about lost wages if they want the job. It’s estimated that if legal workers replaced the undocumented, the total labor costs would be increased by 10% and consumers would have to pay about 6% more to make up the difference. Big Ag, along with landscaping, seafood and food processing plants, can recruit foreign workers under temporary H-1B and H-2B visas for seasonal employment, but they have to try to hire American workers before they can apply for visas.
King Donald has applied for permission to hire 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters, housekeepers, cooks and other workers at his winter White House in Mar-a-Lago. No American worker can afford to work in Palm Beach because of horrific living costs. Trump is willing to pay visa workers a minimum of $12.68 an hour. Can a visa worker live in Palm Beach for that money? Of course not. Trump is also applying for visa workers at his various golf courses. Perhaps he will hire “rapists” “M-13 members,” and other “animals” to keep them out of the public eye. He is also trying to hire 23 foreign visa workers for his winery at Charlottesville, Virginia where his racist voters “chanted” about Jews and “blood” and “soil.”
We have been waiting decades for immigration legislation. We will continue to wait because we face politically expedient racism in Congress and the fact Big Business does not want the flow of undocumented workers stopped. Cheap labor rules. Capitalism has to be cruel to keep profits high and wages low. If the undocumented become citizens, employers would have to pay benefits such as health insurance, unemployment, and Social Security taxes. Taxes would have to be raised to cover various safety nets. Cynical businesses even take advantage of refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who travel to this country because they don’t want to killed at home. We have not reached the point where we have come to grips that our very comfortable lives in the U.S. come at a very bloody cost. No immigration laws will be passed until the disaster-capitalism drive for profit at the expense of human life and dignity changes to responsible capitalism.
Refugees And Immigrants Have Become Universal Problems
With big and little civil wars and corruption destroying governments and countries around the world, particularly in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, the United Nations has estimated the world presently has 68 million people on refugee status. Over 300,000 Syrians left a Syrian city this last week because the Assad government is trying to recover a rebellious section of the country. Where will they go?
It was fascinating on July Fourth to watch 70 people from 30 different countries become citizens in a ceremony at Jefferson’s Monticello, the home of the slave owner. At least half were colored in hues of white, red, yellow, brown and black. Many have been in this country for a decade. They are our neighbors.
We hear a lot about how the U.S. economy is doing great and we have almost full employment. Actually, that’s all fake news by the Trump administration. What is left of the middle class has less purchasing power than it had 30 years ago. Yes, we added 213,000 mostly lousy jobs in June. But the unemployment rate went up to 4% from 3.8%. Why? Because 1.6 million unemployed Americans started to look for work again. The real unemployment rate is actually 7.8%, according to bipartisan experts in the Labor Department.
FDR: “Good Morning, Fellow Immigrants!”
We have been fighting over immigration policies for centuries. Some American organizations wanted to close our shores to refugees and immigrants during the Great Depression. The Daughters of American Revolution, proud of their heritage going back at least to 1620, urged Congress to shut off immigration because of widespread unemployment during the “Brother, can you spare a dime?” period. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded the members of the organization of their origins at the beginning of a speech to them: “Good morning, fellow immigrants!”
The White House, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his former employee Stephen Miller (a Trump advisor), has lived up to its white-supremacist, racist policies by leading the charge against undocumented families seeking asylum. Both Sessions and Miller would have made sure the trains were running on time in fascist Germany.
The Associated Press has learned the administration is abruptly discharging U.S. Army reservists who were promised citizenship if they joined the military. These recruits were required to have legal status before enlisting. At least 5,000 entered the Armed Forces in 2016 and over 10,000 are currently serving in the military. All of these recruits had signed contracts and had taken the military oath. They are now being discharged. (Actually immigrants have been serving in our military services since 1775!)
These two white supremacists also came up with the idea of separating parents and children seeking asylum at border crossings. This decision has resulted in the bizarre, absurd courtroom scenes of babies bottle-sucking and three-year-old toddlers climbing on tables while their appointed lawyers argue their cases before immigration judges. What was a judge thinking when he asked a one-year-old boy if he understood why he was in court? The parents are in detention—somewhere-seeking asylum. What has this country come to? Evidently Melania was sending a real message with her coat: “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?”
by C.S. Hagen
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