"Jobs Americans just won't do."
I can't stand that line, but more importantly, I don't even understand it.
Americans spend months at a time at sea fishing for crab or drilling for oil; two of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Americans clean bathrooms, subway stations and crime scenes. Americans man toll booths, pave roads, embalm bodies and inspect sewers. Yet people really expect us to believe that they won't pick strawberries or oranges?
It just doesn't add up.
Earlier this week The Wall Street Journal published a story about a shortage of H-2B visas, which are issued twice a year to nonagricultural seasonal employees. Because our government can't get out of its own way, they recently let an important "returning workers" provision expire resulting in thousands of foreign workers being shut out of the country this summer.
That's inexcusable. I know this will come as a huge shock to those who only like to hurl insults, but I think we should be issuing more work visas, more student visas, and more green cards. And I think we should cut the red tape and bureaucracy that's constantly blocking the front door.
But until that happens people are left looking for loopholes and excuses, and "jobs Americans won't do" is the gold standard.
The Journal article offered an example of a couple that sells food at fairs around California each summer. They say that because of the H-2B visa shortage most of their seasonal employees aren't able to enter the country.
So why don't they just hire Americans instead? Good question. Her answer? "This is a hard job."
I find it pretty hard to believe that there aren't a few college students who wouldn't want to drive around California and work outdoors all summer, but let's assume that's true. Let's even assume that none of the other 1.1 million Californians who were unemployed as of April are interested in the job either. Isn't anyone wondering why?
Well I'm not a labor consultant, but I am a thinker. Maybe the problem isn't that the job they're offering is "too hard," maybe it's that the wages they're offering are "too low."
No one paints the undersides of bridges for fun, they do it for the money. That's how capitalism works.
How capitalism does NOT work is when we collectively look the other way as companies exploit illegal labor for their own benefit.
The unspoken truth is that these businesses don't hire illegal aliens because they can't find American workers, they hire illegal aliens because they don't want American workers. And it has nothing to do with wages.
Illegal aliens mean no workers' comp claims, no age, race or sex discrimination lawsuits, no healthcare premiums, no unions, and no demands for raises, vacations or bigger offices. In fact, illegal immigrants are the perfect employees because they're not employees at all; they're corporate slaves.
Economist Dr. Thomas Sowell once said, "Blacks were not enslaved because they were black, but because they were available." Can't the exact same thing be said for illegal aliens? They're available and we're allowing them to be exploited in the name of cheap groceries.
Is the price of fruit really the standard we want to live up to as a country? Is that really who we've become?
Many Americans believe that cracking down on the businesses that hire illegal aliens (the current maximum federal fine was recently raised to a laughable $16,000) would hurt these hardworking people too much. A bad job is better than no job, we tell ourselves. But that's catalogue compassion. If you want to understand the real impact of these decisions you've got to get off the couch and go see it for yourself.
Back in 2005, Newsday did an investigation of the living conditions of immigrants in the New York area. In the city of Westbury (median income: $83,000/year) officials found twelve immigrants living in a basement flooded with sewage.
In Southampton (median income: $64,000/year) officials found immigrants living in sheds with no plumbing or heat.
In New Cassel (median income: $62,000/year) officials estimated there were dozens of "shift-bed houses" where immigrants literally rent mattresses for a few hours a day to catch some sleep.
Is compassion looking the other way while immigrants who come here for the dream end up living a nightmare smack dab in the middle of some of our wealthiest communities?
Is compassion ignoring stories that reveal the truth, like the recent raid of a squalid "drop house" in Los Angeles where 57 illegal aliens were being held against their will?
Is compassion not wanting to hear that a woman was raped in that drop house, or that many more would have been if not for the screams of their children disrupting the attackers?
If that's compassion, then I guess I'm happy to be accused of having none.
The problem with the debate over illegal immigration right now is that special interests have been successful in making us think with our hearts instead of our brains. We've been persuaded to believe that real compassion can only be achieved by following their agenda. But look where that's gotten us. And more importantly, look where that's gotten the people they're supposedly trying to help.
If you really want to be compassionate, then help immigrants get jobs here the right way. Help put crippling fines on the employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, help expand and simplify the visa process, and, most importantly, help get people to start thinking with their brains again.
After all, compassion without common sense may feel good but it doesn't achieve anything. If you need proof then go out and give $1,000 to every homeless person who asks you for change. I bet your heart would be full, but your wallet would soon be empty. And all those people would probably still be homeless.