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Illegal Immigrants Not To Blame For Unemployment

Memo to Alabama: George W. Bush was right.

The former president, making a too-late push for what  could have been a game-changing, bipartisan immigration reform law, noted that  immigrants now here illegally make an important contribution to the economy.  They do the jobs Americans can’t or won’t do.

Opponents disagreed, arguing that the undocumented  workers were  stealing jobs that should go to Americans—jobs like picking  fruit for  low wages in the hot sun. That was a questionable claim when the   economy was better, but as Alabama farmers are now learning, Bush’s  statement  is correct even now, when Americans are working for far less  pay in jobs for  which they are way over-qualified, just to have a job.

In June Alabama passed a draconian immigration law—most  of which is  still in place, even while courts decide its constitutionality—that has  driven many immigrants from the state. The result has not been a wave   of grateful unemployed teachers and skilled workers, eager to be  underpaid for  difficult manual labor. Instead, at the San  Francisco Chronicle reports:

The agriculture industry suffered the most  immediate impact. Farmers  said they will have to downsize or let crops die in  the fields. As the  season’s harvest winds down, many are worried about next  year.

In south Georgia, Connie Horner has heard just about  every reason  unemployed Americans don’t want to work on her blueberry farm.  It’s  hot, the hours are long, the pay isn’t enough, and it’s just plain hard.

“You can’t find legal workers,” Horner said.  “Basically, they last a day or two, literally.”

There are a number of lessons here. One is that there are  surely  elected officials and people in the business community who are using the   recession to roll back all kinds of hard-fought rights for workers,  cutting  pay, eliminating job security, and drastically reducing or  zeroing out  benefits. Another is that while Americans don’t want to do  farm work for low  wages, they also don’t want to pay higher prices for  food harvested by workers  paid a decent salary. That’s not an argument  for abusing undocumented workers,  but it’s also not an argument for  scaring foreigners out of the state so locals  can have their bad jobs.

What’s remarkable is that some of the same people who  scream about  illegal immigrants taking American jobs here in the United States  are  quieter when it comes to foreigners abroad taking what could be American   jobs here. Outsourcing of manufacturing jobs increases corporate  profits, but  adds to the unemployment rate domestically. Those are jobs  American will do. If  that anti-immigrant worker crowd is genuinely  concerned about retaining U.S.  jobs, they should focus on bringing back  the outsourced jobs—not evacuating  the foreign workers.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 24, 2011

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Corporations, Economic Recovery, GOP, Government, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Republicans, Right Wing, Unemployment | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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