Just about anyone in the construction trades can attest to the fact that – if illegal aliens were not hired in the first place, then the availability of work for all of us documented Americans would increase. I’m one of those tradesmen whose livelihood has been disrupted by the influx of illegal aliens into this country. I have been fortunate to work in surroundings where contact with illegal aliens is common and where it is not. I say fortunate because, through first hand experience, I have observed the opposing viewpoints of this issue, as well as, the opinions of those who are not as acutely aware of it.
My opinions are supported by both personal experiences and facts. Some of the information (personal experience) given here is factual, but extremely hard to verify. The parties involved would have to incriminate themselves in order to confirm it. Those parties, obviously, would be hesitant to kill the cash cow, so to speak, in the name of legality.
I’ve personally heard contractors and builders state that the reason they hire illegal immigrants is because they can’t find Americans that will do the work. This smoke screen is a ruse used by dishonest employers trying to divert our attention away from their illegal activities. The fact is, there are plenty of Americans who want to, and will, work. The obvious question is – why are illegal aliens being hired to do these jobs if there are already U.S. citizens ready, willing, and able to do them? The short answer is greed.
Many employers in the construction industry are notorious for this. Undocumented workers are used in order to reduce labor costs in the areas of workers’ compensation and liability insurance, unemployment insurance, and “lower than prevailing rate” wages. They are not interested in hiring American citizens because they know they would have to pay them a fair wage, as well as covering the other associated costs of using documented workers.
Illegal workers will work for less money because, being undocumented, they rarely pay employment taxes or any related insurance costs. Contractors exploit the illegals’ fear of immigration officials (La Migra), and the resultant silence stemming from that fear, for the purpose of fattening their own wallets. Too bad the prices these builders charge for the goods they provide don’t reflect their reduced production costs. Although reduced quality, is often the result.
In the residential home building sector, these “undocumented workers” do not have business licenses, liability insurance, and tax documentation. Why? Because of the obvious fact that they are illegal aliens. Yet they still find plenty of work because the contractors who hire them have various ways to get around those pesky legalities. Those loopholes, while almost always illegal, are always unethical and always in the contractor’s favor, financially.
One trick commonly used by employers who pay variable rates based on the number of employees, is to insure only one person. Basically, the crooked builder/contractor gambles on the chance that nobody will get hurt on the job, thereby saving premium costs. If no one gets hurt then there will be no bothersome attention paid to the project. In the unlikely event someone does get hurt, the gamble is protected by the “happy coincidence” that the injured party’s name always seems to be the same as the one listed in the insurance paperwork. The ploy is further enhanced by the fact that, attempting to reliably identify undocumented workers is – well . . . unreliable. This tactic is a blatant case of insurance fraud. Fines and/or temporary loss of business licenses will not sufficiently end this behavior. Jail time for first offenders, is the message that needs to be sent!
Of course, the whole concept is additionally flawed by the incorrect assumption that there will be few, if any, job related accidents. In an environment where quantity is the only production goal, neither quality nor safety, even enter into the equation. This skewed set of priorities increases the chance of injury. It’s a perfect example of “penny-wise, pound-foolish”. The problem is, this seemingly perfect script for an edition of “Dumb Crook News” has been working out nicely for underhanded contractors and illegal aliens alike. These crooks often go unnoticed (and unpunished) by exploiting vague, ineffectual, or nonexistent laws. The offenders are further emboldened by rare, often pre-announced, job site inspections by insurance company representatives.
Legislation that would close these loopholes, along with more frequent unannounced inspections would bring this practice to an end. In any case, insurance companies need to know about this scam.
Another strategy dishonest builders employ is to make sure they are not directly connected (through employer/employee relationships) to the illegal immigrant workers. They use a middleman of sorts. It goes something like this.
The building contractor hires a documented subcontractor (often an American) who will be the party receiving payment for the work being done. This “sub” already has a crew of undocumented, illegal workers on the payroll. The illegal workers get paid in cash, leaving no paper trail. The “sub” then hides the cash outlay in their tax return as a cost of doing business. This scheme effectively insulates the builder from any documented contact with illegal aliens and lets them fall back on the excuse . . . “I didn’t hire them. They don’t work for me. They work for . . . (insert name here).” I have been present when statements like this have been made. These greedy individuals are cutting the legs out from under their own countrymen. Why? For a bigger bank account. To me, they’re no better than war profiteers or drug dealers!
Illegal workers are brought in, presumably, as a cure to offset high business costs. But their presence, whether proven or otherwise, has already created an unknown, high risk liability issue which increases insurance costs. The hiring of undocumented workers by dishonest, money hungry business owners and contractors, is not the cure for high insurance costs. Instead, it is one of the direct causes.
In the building industry, this illegal behavior causes a “snowball effect,” felt in virtually every area of the industry. This includes higher business costs for those that don’t hire illegal aliens, the loss of jobs for skilled U.S. citizens, and the resulting fallout from this unemployment. In some states, insurance premiums for the small subcontractors are so high that they are effectively forced out of business. Their absence creates a void, which the more amply funded contractors fill with crews staffed by illegal immigrants. The operators who suffer the most are the ones who refuse to sacrifice their law abiding and patriotic ethics for the sake of larger profits.
Quality is the next victim on the snowball’s downhill journey. It gets hit from two sides. First, the boss wants as much work as possible, done for the least amount of money. That’s understandable . . . except that the cost savings isn’t passed on to the customer. It’s pocketed, leaving us with products which are built with an emphasis on quantity over quality. If you’ve ever tried to lay brick on a wall above a front porch that wobbles and sways under your weight alone (not to mention the weight of the materials you are working with) you know what I’m talking about.
Equally important, is the fact that many illegal aliens here in the U.S. are transient in nature. That is, they plan to stay here only long enough to earn the amount of money they think they need to go back home and live well. Because they‘re not here for the long haul, they don’t care about the virtue of having a good reputation, built through years of quality workmanship. Their objective is to get in and out as fast as possible, with as much cash as possible and don’t look back. That is one of the reasons why they are such a good fit for the unscrupulous builders out there!
Construction crews comprised wholly of illegal aliens often acquire jobs by undercutting the competition. Competition is a healthy attribute of a free market economy when accomplished with honesty. But, because they operate in the shadows of our legal system, illegals don’t adhere to the concept of honesty to achieve their goals. This particular group of illegal aliens doesn’t trouble with the usual administrative business costs which legal tradespeople must comply with. As a result, they can afford to charge less for work performed.
One suggestion I’ve heard to return fairness to the area of job bidding is to convince illegal aliens to join construction trade unions. Presumably, their membership would require them to charge the same rates that legal tradespeople do, effectively removing the unfairness. I believe this short sighted solution is the brainchild of a knee jerk reaction that has not been developed to its logical conclusion.
Granted, the above solution builds its foundation on a point of fact. It is true that these illegal immigrants undercut their competition via the use of unlawful means. However, their illegal status not withstanding, rewarding illegal immigrants with higher wages will not reduce competition. In fact, the higher earning potential in any region where this absurd idea is implemented would undoubtedly draw more illegals into the picture.
Supporters of this ill-conceived idea fail to recognize another significant factor. Construction jobs are “. . . a prime draw . . .” for illegal immigrants seeking work in the U.S., according to D.H.S. head, Janet Napolitano. Based on Sec. Napolitano’s statement, it is reasonable to assume that illegal immigrant workers would naturally be drawn to a region offering higher earning potential. This assumption is supported by historical evidence which clearly establishes an invariable tendency, by illegal immigrants, to migrate towards regions where greater economic opportunities exist.
This begs a question. Will the new found earnings of these – still illegal aliens – be used to help pay taxes on the roads they use every day, the schools their children go to, their own medical insurance (as opposed to government funded “free” programs)? Will they incur any and every cost necessary to their business that their competition is paying? Will the same be true of the new illegals that will be drawn in by this higher earning potential?
A scheme to include illegal aliens in such organizations would, presumably, require some sort of adjustment to their status as illegal aliens. In my opinion, the above solution is no more than another example of “back door policies” which will lead us steadily to the inevitable conclusion of a blanket amnesty. At which point, such an amnesty could be used to, “just tidy up a couple of loose ends”.
Just as there is no single “magic bullet” solution for America’s current economic dilemma, there is no simple cure for our dysfunctional immigration system. Ineffectual, ill-defined laws created by policy makers with suspect intentions have achieved their goal. They have resulted in unrestrained illegal immigration and flagrant abuse of the legal immigration system.
Any list of solutions to keep the long term viability of American citizens secure, has to include the following: 1. Nationwide implementation of E-Verify 2. Harsh “first offense” penalties for dishonest employers of illegal aliens 3. Legislation aimed at ending chain migration. 4. An honest revamping of current legal immigration standards, with an eye towards lowering overall numbers. 5. Clearly worded laws to punish those who exploit the legal immigration system. 6. Resounding defeat of any mass amnesty legislation.
These are measures that are vital. They will help America keep our citizens and legal immigrants employed and safe from foreign terrorists, save our tax dollars, maintain production quality and safety on a national scale, and prevent rising insurance and health care costs.