This is the 2nd part of a series. Read the 1st part here.
One root cause of immigration to the United States is the basic demand for cheap labor that doesn’t ask for much, if anything, and will work in almost any conditions. Most citizens will not work under those conditions, understanding their rights and the basic conditions that are legally required.
The labor laws in this country are meant to provide for basic safe conditions, a minimum wage, and safe workplaces. However, in many dangerous industries, those laws are often enforced patchily, usually only after a worker dies. The agricultural industry has also won itself many exemptions to those laws through lobbying. Those exemptions made a lot more sense when most farms were small, family-run outfits, but most agriculture is now owned by corporations who could easily afford the added expense of compliance.
Making labor laws apply to all industry, and uniformly and strictly enforced, would increase the numbers of native-born people willing to work in those jobs. They currently don’t, as they are better educated and know their rights, and are confident of finding a safer job.
The agricultural industry insists, for example, that paying minimum wage would make the price of food go up. (I know there are many farmers who do pay minimum wage, but this discussion focuses on the industry in aggregate.) I am sure the price of food would go up, but I would pay more if I knew that I was supporting minimum wages for the harvesters.
My main objection to, say, a more expensive apple versus the cheaper one at the store down the street, is that I don’t know why the expensive apple costs more. If I knew, from a sign in the store, that the expensive one is paying for better working conditions for the apple pickers, I would be much more likely to buy it. This would mean a revolution in how apples are packed and shipped, but I think it would be worth it.
There will always be dirty jobs that only those who can’t get better will do, but if we could make the pool of jobs smaller, then fewer people would come to the United States to do them, making it easier to manage the numbers and reduce the backlogs (of course also dependent on the laws being reformed, as I discussed yesterday in part one).
Tomorrow I will talk about the reasons in their home countries that cause people to want to leave for the United States.
- Thoughts on Immigration, Part One (uucifsocialjustice.wordpress.com)