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Immigration, jobs, and undocumented workers

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Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:45 pm    Post subject: Immigration, jobs, and undocumented workers Reply with quote

The immigration picture is substantially more nuanced than the talking points of the right, and in particular of Trump’s “build the wall” campaign. Here is a useful summary from the Pew report Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007 In States, Hospitality, Manufacturing and Construction Are Top Industries BY JEFFREY S. PASSEL AND D’VERA COHN

Unauthorized immigrants made up 5.1% of the nation’s labor force in 2012, numbering 8.1 million who were working or looking for work, according to previously published Pew Research estimates (Passel and Cohn, 2014). But as this new analysis shows, they account for a far higher share of the total workforce in specific jobs, notably farming (26%), cleaning and maintenance (17%), and construction (14%).

Farm workers account for a substantial workforce, much of it undocumented. Estimates of the number of farm workers vary from about 800,000 to 2.5 million, and 50 to 70% are both undocumented and without H2A visas. They represent only about 5% of the undocumented workers in the US according to the Pew Foundation.

There are about 15 million employed in the hospitality industry.

From the Pew study documenting the economic sectors with substantial numbers of undocumented workers:

Of all unauthorized immigrant workers, 22% are in professional, business and other services, which encompasses a wide range of businesses from legal services and advertising, to employment services, landscaping and waste management, to personal services such as dry cleaning, nail salons, car washes and religious organizations.3 Some 18% are in the leisure and hospitality sector, and 16% are in the construction industry. More than half (55%) of unauthorized immigrant workers are employed in these three sectors, compared with only 31% of U.S.-born workers.

There is precious little evidence to suggest that undocumented workers have taken a significant number of jobs in manufacturing. Evidence also suggests that undocumented workers, and the children of undocumented workers, support agriculture in nearly every state. This is a direct result of efforts by politicians such as Ronald Reagan, who crafted the last major reform of immigration laws, to protect the largely Republican agricultural sector from unionization by ensuring access to seasonal migrant workers. Darn, they didn't all go back to Latin America. Who would have thought?

Recognizing the underlying nature of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, in this country is not favoring an open border, or wanting to build a wall. And the situation in the United States is very different than that in Europe. In Europe, free travel from members of the European Union is the price of admission. It is a different issue than the humanitarian dilemma created by the destabilization of the Middle East by ill-conceived intervention in Iraq and the largely disastrous outcomes of the Arab spring.

Solutions are a little more complicated than "build the wall."
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