Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The "Jobs Americans Won't Do" Myth

President Bush, in his weekly radio address, was addressing the problem of illegal immigration when he said that among other things, new immigration legislation would require

a temporary worker program that will relieve pressure on our borders. This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do.

Other bloggers have already pointed out the fallacy of this viewpoint, but since it is the opinion of the President of the United States that there are certain jobs American workers won't do, let us present a few more facts to strengthen the argument against President Bush's illegal immigration stance.

The industries where a disproportionate number of illegal immigrants work (farm labor and hospitality, for example) probably are jobs that many Americans would not be willing to do right now, and why is that? Because the supply of cheap, illegal labor is such that business owners in many of these industries do not have to pay a decent living wage (by American living standards), or offer costly benefits.

This system, while it may keep prices on consumer goods and services lower, deprives under-educated, lower income Americans of many opportunities. If the supply of cheap (illegal) labor was drastically curtailed, employers would be forced to raise the wages paid and increase benefits in order to attract and maintain their work force. This would benefit the poorest in American society more than any other class.

Some Americans likely have to work at two jobs, due to the glut of illegal immigrants driving down the price of labor in many industries. Consumers and employers may benefit from this system, but the nation's poor are paying the price, and will continue to do so if watered down, meaningless legislation gets passed by Congress and signed into law.

If there are jobs that Americans will not do, it is because the inability to control illegal immigration into the United States is cheating many Americans out of the ability to find employment and earn a decent living wage.

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