From the Field Hearings here in Georgia in August…photos here [ see photo gallery] and here.
God Bless Congressman Charlie Norwood.
Statement of D.A. King
Before the Committee on Education and The WorkforceSubcommittee on Workforce Protections
Field Hearing on:
“Immigration: Economic Impact on American Workers and their Wages”
in Gainesville, Georgia [Official page here]
August 14, 2006
Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, good morning.
My name is D.A. King. I am president of The Dustin Inman Society, which is a Georgia-based coalition of Americans of many backgrounds and ethnicities dedicated to educating the public on the consequences of illegal immigration.
I am grateful for the opportunity to provide testimony today regarding the recently passed Senate bill addressing our borders, the illegal immigration crisis in America and the impact of the Senate legislation on the American workforce.
In an effort to make clear my own level of concern with the illegal immigration crisis in our nation, I would like to make it known that three years ago I put aside my own business and have exhausted my personal savings in a full-time effort to educate myself and others on the issue.
As someone who has chosen to be active in a grass-roots effort to encourage my government to secure our borders and equally apply American law, I am in constant contact with countless American citizens on the issue – including immigrants who have obeyed American laws in their effort to join the American family.
My adopted sister is a real, legal, immigrant who came from Korea.
The thousands of concerned Americans who have contacted me over the years share a common theme in their questions, observations and complaints. They ask why employers are allowed to hire illegal labor in violation of existing laws – and why a nation that has put men on the moon and has built, and maintains, more than 46,000 miles of interstate highways has not used that expertise to stop illegal entries into their country.
Most Americans are aware of the “one time” amnesty of 1986. They see that it did nothing to secure our borders, end illegal immigration or discourage employers from hiring illegal aliens. Despite the concerted effort of many in the Senate to label S 2611 as anything but amnesty-again, most Americans with whom I speak understand it to be exactly that.
Ignoring the climate of fear that has been created to intimidate them, American citizens are coming out of the shadows and asking why they are required to obey American laws while many employers, bankers and people with no legal right to be in the U.S. suffer no punishment for not doing so.
I have no acceptable answers for them. I sadly admit that I find myself asking similar questions.
For many of us, the new American Dream is to have borders as secure as are Mexico’s and immigration and employment laws that are as enthusiastically enforced.
Absent their ability to speak here, I respectfully ask that today I be regarded as a humble voice of the millions of Americans who reject the senate bill and its intent in its entirety.
Time constraints prohibit even a brief outline of the many flaws in the Senate bill. Among those mistakes, one of the most brilliant examples of the senate’s failure to protect the American worker is the provision that would effectively expand the Davis Bacon Act of 1931 to allow foreign workers to be paid a different – and higher – “prevailing wage” than Americans who work at the same job.
While most Americans – including myself – are not experts on Davis Bacon, we find it easy to understand the injustice involved if the effect of the senate bill would be to “legalize” illegal labor and then provide an avenue whereby that labor then be rewarded with pay and benefits not available to all American workers.
Further, most Americans understand that the constant reference to “temporary” or “guest workers” in the senate bill amounts to an attempt to redefine very basic words in the English language.
Not many of us consider a worker as “temporary” if that worker is offered a path to citizenship with permanent resident status at the end of the allotted time on his work visa. I have many American friends who have been employed in countries all over the world as guest workers. All of them report the laws that demand their timely departure from the host nation at the prescribed date are vigorously enforced.
None of these former guest workers were offered citizenship in the nations in which they temporarily worked.
Guest workers, by definition, and if indeed truly required, should be made to clearly understand that the period of employment in the United States is finite and that bringing their families and setting up permanent residence is not part of the bargain.
American taxpayers should not be required to subsidize the low wage labor.
We do not have time here today for me to share the many stories from citizens who report instances of their wages decreasing because of competition from illegal labor and the willingness of employers hiring that labor in violation of existing law while bypassing Americans as job applicants.
Sadly, I am personally acquainted with Americans who have lost their family businesses because they refused to violate immigration and labor laws and could not compete with others in their trade who lacked the integrity to make similar decisions.
Mr. Charles Shafer of Lawrenceville, Georgia is but one example. Mr. Shafer is a second generation framing contractor – a carpenter – who has declared bankruptcy and endured years of unemployment due to competing contractors hiring illegal labor who will work for considerably less than he was earning ten years ago.
With his permission, I attach to my written testimony Mr. Shafer’s account of his experiences and ask that it be noted that it was written more than two years ago.
I also submit a written account from Mr. Jeff Hermann of Oxford, Georgia who operates a pine straw/landscaping business. Mr. Hermann has lost considerable business and earnings to illegal labor and has been forced to apply for welfare as a result. Mr. Hermann has agreed to having his story become record as well.
Mr. Shafer and Mr. Hermann share very similar stories and are but two of thousands that have come to my attention from Americans who are working for a better life in their own country.
None of them sees the Senate bill as a remedy to their plight.
I am acquainted with many tax-paying Americans who have been denied employment because they do not speak Spanish.
I have never spoken to anyone who can recount examples of American wages increasing because of immigration, either legal or illegal.
Most Americans understand that low-skilled jobs in America pay many times more than the same jobs in most of the world. The American people recognize that fact to be a magnet that draws illegal immigration into the United States. No reasonable person I am aware of blames anyone for wanting to live and work in the United States, just as no one I am aware of is of the opinion that we can continue to allow any worldwide “willing worker” to replace Americans in our job market.
We also understand that if it is possible to verify a credit card transaction at our local department store, it is also possible to verify employment eligibility in the United States without putting an undue burden on American employers.
As president of the Dustin Inman Society, I have enrolled in the Basic Pilot Program. I am a program administrator and have used that system to verify my own eligibility to work in the United States. Until a better system is designed, it is my educated observation that one immediate goal for Congress should be to make Basic Pilot verification mandatory and increase funding to do so.
Please allow me to conclude by saying that with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, we were promised that Americans would have secure borders and equal protection under the law in the workplace. Not many of us are willing to remain silent while similar promises are made without real enforcement teeth in whatever new legislation is made into law.
I respectfully implore you to do all that is possible from your elected office to secure American borders, restore the rule of law to our nation and create a state of fairness to American workers.
Remembering the amnesty of 1986, it is my belief that the Senate legislation would accomplish none of these things.
Thank you Congressmen.
I welcome any questions.
Written account of Mr. Charles Shafer, carpenter, Lawrenceville Georgia.
Submitted with permission.
To be attached to D.A. King testimony.
My family has been in the residential construction business in one form or another for over 5 generations now. In the past 2 generations of my family most of us (my dad, 3 brothers, 6 uncles, and several cousins) have been residential framing contractors-carpenters.
As recently as 5-6 years ago we were the most sought after framers in the business. Our reputations preceded us as being the best of the best. Now we are all either unemployed or are struggling to survive economically.
I started my own business in 1988. Until that point I had worked for my father mostly. We have always had so much work at times we would turn work down.
I felt I had a very successful and lucrative business until late 1998 and the beginning of the year 1999. Then around the end of 1999 and the start of 2000 the calls slowed down and most of us were not getting as many from the builders whom we had worked for in the past as well as no calls at all from any new builders.
I remember it was around the end of 1999 it seemed on a daily basis someone would come by the job and ask if I needed help or if I knew anyone who did. They always made the statement even then “I can have as much help as you need here in the morning”. Also I would like to state at that time I was working 2 legal immigrants with proper documentation, social security numbers, a driver’s license, etc. (so I believed)
I tried every thing I could think of for the next year or so to save my business and career. At the time I even tried not only getting out and riding around trying to meet new people, leaving business cards on job sites, but also sending mailings to almost every builder listed in the Atlanta Home Builders Association announcing my availability and desire to work. These efforts were basically fruitless.
Every where I went I saw more and more what appeared to be Mexican crews and less and less American crews doing the work. For a short period of time thereafter, about a year or so, instead of the most of my work being all new work it became more in the field of remodeling. That eventually went away also.
During the year 2000 the phone calls started slowing down and eventually stopped. Even though the residential construction in Atlanta was obviously ongoing at an unbelievable pace I could not find work. Whenever I did find a new subdivision starting and some one to talk to I was told I was the wrong color and I have been told I would not work for the wages they paid. At the wages they were offering, they were right, there was no way to compete.
There’s not any way then or now in my mind to compete with illegal labor. The work I was offered, when I was offered work was at such a reduced standard wage, less than half of what the same work paid only a few years prior, a person could not remain legal and still endure all the labor cost or insurance cost or taxes associated with trying to run a proper business.
I even tried for a year or so to employ a mixture of Americans and Mexicans.
Then all Mexicans. It doesn’t take long for them to become Americanized. By this I’m referring to the fact the only reason they wanted to work for me instead of one of their own was because it did not take them long to come to the conclusion an American employer would pay them a higher wage than a Mexican employer. Then I became aware that they were all illegally here in the U.S. This resulted in my having to pay all associated taxes on their behalf. That’s when I decided it was not worth it anymore and basically gave up. I wasn’t getting any phone calls for work and you surely couldn’t ride around and find any work. The illegals had it all.
Even though I have never announced to anyone in this field of my intentions to quit, to this date I have only had 2 phone calls for work in the past 3 years or so. These came from people I had done personal homes for in the past not from any builders. More or less I have tried to explain to them I had retired, not by choice, but because I could not compete against an ever increasing immigrant population.
I used to have to be very careful when I was talking to someone not to use the “illegal” terminology. Whenever I did people would respond with an ignorant comment to the effect these people were not illegal and I would respond by stating I had personally met several hundred these past few years and not a one were legal.
Since post 9-11 I have tried repeatedly to find work. My families work (the one or two remaining) is so sparse they can offer little or no help and still survive themselves. At almost 51 years old, even though I feel I have many good years left, no one I have met wants to employ me.
I have applied for many Superintendent positions to no avail. Hardly a response for so long, I finally gave that avenue up also. Why not I often ask myself. I have so much experience and knowledge about residential construction from start to finish.
It is, believe it or not, almost understandable to me because of the availability of such a younger work force now. Plus I don’t speak Spanish. I also usually know more about the business, codes etc., than the people I have tried to go to work for and I think that may have intimidated them some.
We as Americans will work and have worked with the Mexicans. It’s a fact they will not return the favor. Do you know of any American who works for a Mexican in the construction business? I don’t.
I was taught from day-one a home is usually the largest investment a person makes in life. It was instilled into my natural behavior from childhood to do the very best job possible for a person and not to cut corners or to walk away from an error or mistake. The majority of my relatives had the same raising and that’s what made us once upon a time the most desirable in the residential construction field. Now this business seems to be only about profit margins and how fast you can finish a job. Not many seem to care about quality anymore.
I have continually searched for a job and would now accept one even if its a floor sweeping job. But I have come to the conclusion that I am unemployable especially since 9-11 and with all the illegal immigrants available.
We as a family of 5, a daughter 14, a daughter 10, and a son 5, have barely survived these past few years. My wife and I filed bankruptcy last year. We had already refinanced our modest home which we only owed 3 years on….. trying to survive.
I am a proud man even to this day. I have absolutely refused any hand outs in life and will not accept one now.
Please understand residential framing/construction was to be a career I have looked forward to since childhood. It was a dream job for me even though the work was hard and the hours long. The pay while it lasted was great. We lived the American dream….if we wanted something we got it and got up the next day went to work and paid for it.
I can’t imagine what I will do in life now that the illegal immigrants are present in such enormous numbers in today’s society. I am adamant I will figure it out, how and which way to go; right now I’m not sure. I’m just not willing to give up just yet. My family surely deserves more than what illegal immigration has brought into their lives.
If you have any more questions or need anything else please feel free to contact me.
Charles Shafer, Jr.
Written account of Mr. Jeff Hermann, landscaper of Oxford, Georgia
To be attached to testimony of D.A. King
My name is Jeff Hermann. My partner and I run a small landscaping
business called “The Pinestraw Guys”. We’ve been at it now for almost eight
years. Our work is fairly labor-intensive, as it involves spreading the
pinestraw in the decorative ‘islands’ of peoples’ homes and businesses.
When we started the business, we didn’t have any customers, so we’d load
up the truck and knock on doors all day looking for jobs. It was tough
at first, but as time went by we grew. After two years we had enough
customers to stop knocking on doors and hire someone to help us.
Our customers loved our work and referred their friends and neighbors to us.
Life was getting pretty good. We hired a few more guys, and the business
continued to grow.
That’s all changed now.
About two and a half years ago we started noticing a drop-off in our business.
Several of our accounts had stopped calling. When we called them to find out why, they said simply that we had been under-bid by a competitor. I
had a hard time believing that because we operate on a very small
mark-up to begin with. Now, I’m not a bashful man by any means, so I
called my competition and asked them how they could do it so cheap.
“Simple,” was the reply, “I hired some Mexicans down at the Home Depot.
They’re illegals, so they work really cheap.”
I know of several landscape contractors who now do the same thing. They
pay these illegal aliens 5 or 6 bucks an hour, cash under the table of
course, and pocket the difference. Well, MOST of the difference. The
rest they give to their customers in the form of lower prices. That’s
all good for the contractor and the customer, but not so good for me.
Suddenly I’m in competition with someone who’s willing to do this work
for minimum wage or less.
By last fall my income had dropped over 50%, and I had to apply for food
stamps in order to feed my kids. I also applied for Medicaid because I
could no longer afford my health insurance. I qualified for the food
stamps (Thank God) but my income, less than $200 a week by then, was too
high to get Medicaid. While talking to my caseworker about this, she let
it slip that if I had been an illegal alien, I would have qualified for
‘emergency’ Medicaid and been covered by it that day. Needless to say,
my jaw almost hit the floor.
Let me re-cap what I’ve been through because of illegal immigration.
My business has been cut in half.
I’ve had to lay off American workers.
I can no longer afford health insurance.
I’ve had to take welfare.
And to top it off, I can’t even get Medicaid.
I’m not asking for handouts, I’m asking for that ‘level playing field’
our President loves to espouse. Secure the border. Deport illegal aliens.
Enforce the law. Give me my life back.
Personal information/ other information.
I have been studying the consequences of our unsecured borders and the resulting illegal immigration for more than four years and have been regarded as an expert on the issue on various network television broadcasts including the CNN, CBS, PBS and FOX networks as well as many nationwide radio shows including NPR that address the issue.
In 2003, I put down my own insurance business of twenty-five years and began to organize public rallies, to lobby lawmakers and educate people on the issue of illegal immigration at my own expense. I have spent our life savings, sold my stocks and refinanced my house to do so.
I have been to the U.S. – Mexican border three times in the last two years and watched as brave Border Patrol agents risk their lives to guard those borders and then watched with disgust as the illegal aliens who escape apprehension there are hired here in Georgia and then demand the rights and privileges of citizens and legal residents.
I founded the Dustin Inman Society in 2005 in an attempt to raise public awareness on facts surrounding illegal immigration and I write a periodic column on the topic in the Marietta Daily Journal.
The Dustin Inman Society is named for a friend’s son who lost his life in 2000 because of an automobile crash involving a driver who is an illegal alien.
In my Marietta home of twenty-two years, the only house I have ever owned, I have lived across the street from people that I now know were in the U.S. illegally. The number of persons living in that three-bedroom house at times numbered as many as eighteen.
Having spoken out in the demand that American borders be secured as is required by the Constitution, that American law be equally and fully applied and that the English language be the common language of our nation, I have been called a variety of derogatory names and labeled “un-American” by the many who profit from the crime of illegal immigration and employment.
I am a former Marine [1970-1971] and vividly remember being promised no-cost medical care for the rest of my life as a condition of my military service. In 2004, my application to the Veterans Administration for that medical care was denied due to a means test that began in 2003. I have watched since then as my tax dollars go to provide federally mandated no-cost medical care to people with no legal right to be in the United States – without any mention of such a means test.
I am qualified to testify on the effects of illegal immigration because literally thousands of Americans come to me with stories of injustice in their lives caused by that organized crime and ask me to tell their stories to elected officials who they trust to remedy those cases of inequality under the law.
I would like to respectfully note that I have reached the point at which I truly wish I did not know what I have learned.