Friday, April 25, 2008

Illegal Immigrants in the Workforce

A topic that we might not focus on too much here in the Midwest is that of illegal immigrants, which is a major problem in Western states such as Arizona, and much of Northern California. In the United States, illegal immigrants number about 12 million and make up an estimated 5 percent of the civilian workforce, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Much of the nation is puzzled on how to handle this situation. Do we make it easier for them to get green cards, or just make restrictions even tougher, making their lives so hard that they are forced to move back to their home nation: Many times this is Mexico.

In this class we have discussed a lot on how we should all be treated in our professional careers, and how we are going to make life choices based on goals, families, and other decisions that require a balance of work and life. However, for illegal aliens working in the United States, there is no room for any of these choices to be made. With the Bush Administration tightening restrictions on employers’ responsibilities to make sure their employees are legal, illegal immigrants are living in fear of being deported, not whether or not they will have enough time to make dinner for their families after work. In the article, Illegal Immigrant’s Choice: Work Underground or Leave by Tyche Hendricks in the San Francisco Chronicle, one immigrant worker, and California resident said, “"I know a lot of people who live in constant fear that they'll be deported," he said. "They're all honest people who work very hard, as I did when I came here. After 18 years here I employ three people every day, I have my own business, my own house. I consider that I've been successful. And I know that these people, if you give them the opportunity, they will be successful, too." So I wonder whether these people should be given a chance to continue to work hard and stay in America, where they want to be. What will the impact be in places such as California where so many illegal immigrants are responsible for critical jobs in the environment and beyond?


Blogger Vic Simianu said...

Karlie, this topic is incredibly important and relevant to today's workforce - especially here in America. I'm surprised we haven't talked about this, actually, and that noone has commented yet: this is a huge issue in the contemporary world of politics and business. So, if I'm interpreting you accurately, you're asking whether or not we should protect our "legal" workforce, or take advantage of the economic perks of a devoted and hard-working class of illegal immigrants. It's a tough debate, and one can clearly argue both sides of the issue.

As an immigrant myself, I know the increidbly arduous process of attaining one's Green card and Visa for studying, living, or working here in the United States. That being said, my family had to go through the process over a dozen years ago, and the standards have only gotten tougher. The process is long, tedious, and excludes many applicants. So, the fact that "the American dream" is such a tease for many people often drives them to the illegal extremes which have gathered so much attention.

Although many of these immigrants try only to feed their families in an environment better suited for their families than their home countries, the fact that they try and maintain low-profile presents an economic problem. The low-profile status of these immigrants usually guides them to take the lower-level, less-paying jobs that many Americans don't want. This phenomenon, of course, lets companies be more productive (by filling the jobs), but on the other hand, deprives jobs for Americans trying to (re)enter the workforce. I'm not saying that the issue is isolated to low-profile and low-income jobs, but one can see where the fight over jobs can come into play.

So, what to do? Should we preserve the American dream while depriving a portion of Americans to job opportunities, or should we push for a highly-regulated and unwelcoming environment to immigrants that will do anything to live in our country. What a debate, huh? The current legislation allows a temporary worker program, but doesn't grant amnesty to illegal immigrants: Bush's administration has called for a major increase in border security and deportment of illegal immigrants. Personally, I believe that there must be a balanced solution that can capitalize on the immigrant motivation (economically), while protecting the American workforce. I don't what that would be, but I'd love to hear thoughts on it. Maybe a good point to start would be reviewing the current laws that address Karlie's article.

Here is a summary on the recent legislation regarding the illegal immigration in the US:

3:12 PM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

Robin's post she made a few days after yours, Karlie, also further debates the illegal imigrant issue. There are some strong responses and good figures that merit reading and thought.

3:38 PM  

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