We need to build a wall! The caravans are invading our country! Close our borders!
Immigration has long been an issue in America, even more so over the last five or so years thanks to the increasing sense of nationalism by certain sections of the US populace. The anti-immigrant rhetoric, policies and violence has become all too common, and that is shameful. A long standing complaint about immigration has been a belief that immigrants are taking jobs that would normally would be filled by American citizens. Watch the video below from comedian Doug Stanhope where he talks about this. (Disclaimer: This is not work-friendly and from a comedy show, so don’t take it too seriously!)
People immigrate here because they are pursuing a better life. Afterall, America is considered the land of opportunity. People from every corner of the world have come here searching for success. And I think opportunity is viewed very differently by people who come here from other countries, especially when they are from developing countries. In their case, the fact that they have A JOB is an opportunity in itself.
Here’s a real-life example that might help you better understand what I mean:
There is a full-service gas station I go to in the winter (because who the hell wants to stand outside in January when it’s 10 below zero and the wind is howling at 30 mph to pump gas.) The gas station attendants are always foreigners, most likely from Central America. They pump my gas and process my payment, then smile and thank me. And not a fake thank you, but an honest thank you. On occasion I think that wherever they were from, it must have been hell because they are here, standing in the freezing cold inhaling gas fumes with a smile on their face. I always get the sense that they were just thankful for the opportunity.
I don’t want to talk about how immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans, I want to talk about who hires the immigrants (illegal and legal). Americans get mad at immigrants for coming here and getting jobs, but who is offering the jobs? Business owners. Capitalist. The people who have no issue exploiting cheap, powerless labor so they can maximize their profits. I don’t understand getting mad at the person who takes the under-the-table, below minimum wage, no benefit, no protection jobs. Get mad at the people who offer those types of jobs and employ people under those conditions. Isn’t it easier to regulate the business owners who exploit immigrants than it is to build a 2,000 mile wall along the US/Mexico border? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to invest in regulating labor practices than spending $20 million dollars per mile of wall? Regulating businesses labor practices could be done fairly inexpensively through the IRS.
For example, take a mid-sized landscape company with $10 million in revenue. The average landscape company spends about 35% of revenue on labor. So our fictitious company should have $3.5 million in labor costs. If the average landscape employee makes $20 per hour, then our fictitious company should have around 175,000 hours of labor. The IRS checks their tax return and payroll records against these standards and if there is a large enough difference, then there is a labor audit. The IRS checks the percentage to make sure there is enough being paid out in wages and checks the hours to make sure that it isn’t being paid out to a few people so the books look correct.
On top of these regulations, the federal minimum wage needs to be raised. Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25. A full-time minimum wage worker would make $15,080 per year. That is clearly not a livable wage. But the real purpose of raising the federal minimum wage is to prevent the exploitation of immigrant workers. Businesses have proven that they will hire employees at the lowest possible wage. By making the minimum wage a competitive wage, it will help all workers, whether they were born in the U.S. or not.
Immigrants aren’t exploiting America, the wealthy are exploiting the immigrants. That exploitation is what hurts the American worker.