As we consider the issues of immigration reform I think that the punishment facet of the problem should be reconsidered. A sticking point is the belief that we need to punish undocumented workers for coming illegally and taking jobs from Americans. I would submit that not one undocumented worker TOOK one job from anyone. Every one of the jobs was GIVEN to them by someone.
The people who gave them the jobs were, at best, people who didn’t want to watch their produce rot in the fields or in the trees. Others welcomed, even recruited them through coyotes to bust unions, provide cheap child care, and generally to act as a pool of low paid, rightless workers who could be exploited. Yes, they came illegally. But which is worse, coming illegally to a country out of economic desperation or exploiting desperate and vulnerable people to lower wages for all working people and create desperate American citizens who no longer have a living wage?
The reason illegal immigration has not been solved is because those with the most political influence haven’t considered illegal immigration a problem, but a solution. If you are a manager of a business who wants to increase profits a good way to do it has been to hire undocumented workers who work cheaply, don’t apply for worker’s compensation when hurt, and are afraid to form a union. Sometimes you can even get them to work for a couple of weeks and not pay them at all because they can’t complain. The public relations triumph of exploiters has been to profit from undocumented workers, stall any efforts to create a reasonable immigration policy, and put the blame for any social problems on the exploited.
Undocumented workers have done our hardest, dirtiest jobs for the lowest wages and have faced all manner of exploitation, even sexual exploitation. Why do we feel a need to punish them for that?
We need to remember what kind of country we are and pass a compassionate immigration reform bill.