Friday, January 06, 2006

Illegal Immigrants Aid Economy (Guest Blog)

From Guest Blogger: Rob Robinson [robrobinson@opter.net]

Several years ago, I worked as a Consultant with the Human Resources Division of a major construction company within the United States. The major challenge for me was to help them develop a plan to retain their Mexican workers. Indeed, the very same illegal Mexican workers are being debated in news forums today ranging in issues from deportation, rights to obtain driver’s license, to border patrol by the self-proclaimed minutemen.

This particular company’s problem was that workers would come to work and work diligently, but on a seasonal basis. In this case, after only a few months of work, many would return to Mexico to their families. The company’s quest was to determine a way to keep these workers on a longer and more dependable basis.

Why such a fuss about these so-called illegal workers? Some argue that they take jobs that blacks or other low-income folks will not. But that was, and is hardly the issue. In frank terms, the majority of these workers would take the jobs offered and receive significantly lower wages. While the company was obligated to pay Workman’s Compensation for these labor-intensive jobs, they were not obligated to pay the same wages and health benefits for each these full-time seasonal or part-time temporary employees that they would to more-informed American workers.

Over the 15 years, there have been many forums challenging Welfare-to-Work recipients to take these jobs. Unfortunately, it became increasingly frustrating to learn that a welfare check with its fringe benefits were considered a better deal than working this same kind of construction job with limited ones. Yet a larger question looms over this issue. Do illegal immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy? And if so, is it worth restructuring our laws in a manner that would recognize and support their contributions?

On a particular afternoon, I remember having a conversation with a Foreman from The Company in which he emphatically expressed his love for “ his Mexicans.” In fact he said, “I love my Mexicans. They come to work on time and work hard, even in the heat of the day. They’ll do what others workers won’t.” But as the conversation continued, I gathered that he indeed liked his employees for all of the reasons that he mentioned, but also for the ones we cited earlier (a payout lower wages and less benefits). The bottom line is that these contributions from illegal immigrant workers also mean bigger bonuses and higher profits for the company’s brass. Noticeably, profits and bonuses are not passed down to the same workers who were responsible for these windfalls.

For the record, I recognize that not all immigrant Mexican workers are illegal, but there are an estimated 13 million undocumented immigrant workers in America. Nonetheless, this issue needs to be fairly addressed while realizing that these human beings positively contribute to the economy of United States and deserve fair treatment in the process of finding a viable solution.

Rob Robinson

4 comments:

Michael Vincent Miller said...

Rob has hit on an important part of the controversy with immigrant workers and I believe it is important to recognize the contribution the migrant worker makes to the US economy.

Anna Clements said...

I completely agree with the points that Rob has discussed here. Immigrant workers will continue to work in this country, working the jobs that are offered at a sigficantly lower wage. The controversy needs to be about what we as Americans will allow these companies to do when it comes to migrant workers.

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