With the state of California at the edge of financial—and perhaps political—chaos, the truth about the real meaning of uncontrolled immigration is finally seeping into the state’s major newspapers.
Last week in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Fred Dickey unleashed a 5,000-word feature on the impact of illegal immigration on the state’s legal—and lower-income—workers. In a word, the effect is disastrous. (Undermining American Workers | Record Numbers of Illegal Immigrants Are Pulling Wages Down for the Poor and Pushing Taxes Higher By Fred Dickey, July 20, 3003.)
Mr. Dickey recounts the plight of a lady named Patricia Morena , “a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent,” a single mother who lives with three kids in a “ratty little one-bedroom apartment.” Mrs. Morena is on her pathetic way down the drainpipes of history—and she’s beginning to figure out why.
“If she didn’t have to compete with unauthorized workers in the cheap motels that cluster just north of the border, she thinks,”Mr. Dickey writes, “she could lift her wages from $7.50 per hour to maybe $10 and bargain for some health insurance.”
But, she told him , “If I ask for money, the bosses say, ‘I can get a young girl who is faster and cheaper.’ The bosses have power over illegals. They know they’re afraid and not going to ask for overtime, even though I know the law says they should get it.”
Mrs. Morena “has learned a fundamental economic truth: The only leverage unskilled workers have is scarcity of labor. Morena can’t work her way up the economic ladder because the bottom rungs have been broken off by the weight of millions of new illegal workers. The Census Bureau says the number of illegal immigrants in the country doubled in the 1990s, from 3.5 million to 7 million, the largest such increase in the nation’s history.”
Of course the truth is not at all compatible with the brazen lie by which the Open Borders lobby has derailed political discussion of the immigration issue—the lie that mass immigration is a substantial if not essential economic boon. The illegals with whom Mrs. Morena’s employers threaten to replace her are themselves part of the vast 33 million people living in poverty in the United States, and so of course is Mrs. Morena herself and her three children.
Mass immigration, so far from benefiting the economy, has simply multiplied the numbers of poor.
The other big lie of the Open Borders crowd Mr. Dickey exposes is the companion myth that (as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says in its brief for yet another amnesty for illegal aliens), “undocumented workers” are “performing tasks that most Americans take for granted but won’t do themselves.”
Mr. Dickey tells his readers a little story. He recently discussed painting his house with an American contractor who offered the lowest of three bids if he were paid in cash. His reason for that stipulation was,
“‘If I’m going to stay in business, I have to do what the illegals do. They never pay taxes, on profits or on their employees’ pay. Right there, I’m at a 20 percent disadvantage. They’ll come in here with about six guys with paintbrushes who work for peanuts, do a fair job, and then they’re gone.’ These competitors have driven every American out of gardening, he added, and are doing it to house-painting, roofing and car repair.”
It is simply a lie that American gardeners, roofers, painters, roofers and mechanics are too lazy to work at their professions. The truth is they have been pushed out of such occupations by the cheap illegal labor imported by Big Business and its Open Borders shills.
And the larger truth is that as pathetic as Mrs. Morena’s plight is, it’s the same plight that more skilled American workers face. The Detroit Free Press recently reported on a Mercedes Benz plant in Alabama that has imported Polish workers—supposedly legal—to paint luxury cars assembled there. [Officials To Check Alabama Workers, by Jennifer Dixon, July 26, 2003]. The company claims the work is highly specialized and Americans can’t do it. The reality is that the Polish workers “earn only a fraction of their American counterparts,” so it makes sense to hire them instead of the locals—whose taxes helped subsidize the incentives that led Mercedes to build the plant there in the first place.
It’s terrific that newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press—which have supported mass immigration editorially for years—are now telling the truth about what they’ve endorsed for so long has done to this country and its workers.