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We gave them jobs

There are many things that could be said about our current presidential campaign, most of them less than positive. But whichever side of the fence you fall on, there is one thing that has gained focus and that is our immigration policy.

As employers, this is a major issue since many of our employees are immigrants.

What comes to my mind is the fact that we (“we” being Americans in general) are the cause of the problem. This is something that, in all of the heated discussions on the subject, is never pointed out. We, from day one, not only turned a blind eye to the fact that our employees were not properly documented, we have encouraged this practice and benefited from it. Starting with the need for cheap farm labor as early as the mid 1800’s (before that we simply used slave labor, but that is another subject entirely) and progressing through the desire to increase profits by cutting costs in our industries, we have been perfectly happy to tolerate the influx of a large number of people who, for whatever reason, were willing to work for low wages.

In the mid 1980’s when the whole “yuppie” thing exploded, we needed even more cheap labor because we wanted housekeepers and nannies and gardeners and cooks. We collectively turned our backs to the influx of millions of people entering the country illegally to do this work for us while we convinced ourselves that we could sustain a rich and famous lifestyle by playing monopoly and flipping real estate. The next time we took a look, the nannies and housekeepers and gardeners and become electricians and plumbers and carpenters and factory workers and suddenly it became apparent that there were no longer enough jobs to go around. Then there arose an outcry about the 12 million illegal immigrants who were “taking out jobs”, ignoring the fact that we gave them the jobs.

I do not advocate an easy path to citizenship for anyone who has entered this country illegally. But I do feel that a path to legality is the only conscionable way for up to deal with the situation. “Amnesty,” you cry in horror? Well, face it. We’ve already given them amnesty. Every employer who has ever hired a person whom they know does not possess legal documentation has, in effect, given them amnesty. It’s on us to correct the problem. If we don’t give illegal immigrants jobs, they won’t come.

Don’t want illegal immigrants? Don’t hire them!


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