Sunday, April 02, 2006

illegal McImmigrants

I found a few interesting facets of the undocumented worker debate in the following story:
A brogue gets heard in debate

Newsday Staff Writer

April 2, 2006

Tony emigrated from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 1996, overstayed his tourist visa when it expired and set up a thriving floor installation business on Long Island.

For a decade now, the New Hyde Park resident has been living in the shadows - an undocumented immigrant who can't even get a driver's license. He hires someone to take him around.
Interesting tidbit #1: Notice that this is someone who's creating jobs (at least one, his driver, but I've installed flooring and unless you're working with tile, you need helpers) and after ten years, can't get a green card despite this fact.
O'Dowd, a Syosset resident who is publisher of the Manhattan-based Irish Voice newspaper, estimates that half the nation's 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants live in the tri-state area, with the others in cities including Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Many of the men work in construction, while the women are nannies.
Gee...nannies I get. It's hard to find native-born American women to work as nannies. But construction workers are hard to come by? Considering what union jobs pay (my dad was a carpenter) and the benefits, I'm shoc--...oh, right, union labor costs real money!
Most have come because Ireland's thriving economy is growing mostly in high-tech areas and excluding many low-skilled workers from the boom.
America, Third World country.

Seriously, we have it ass backwards on our immigration policy. We should be begging for low skill workers to come here, for a couple of reasons.

1) They're here. They're going to continue to come, legally or illegally, and anyone who believes we can seal off the entire border between the US and Mexico AND the US and Canada isn't paying attention to a few facts, not least of which is you would have to seal off the coastlines as well AND inspect each and every cargo container coming into our ports. That's how much people want to come in and work here.

2) They really DO the jobs we won't. Try hiring a teen to mow your lawn, and you'll see what I mean. Maybe if you live in a backwater town in rural America, where odd jobs can actually add up to a living, but not in the suburbs and certainly not in urban America. It's why McDonald's routinely pays higher than minimum wage now in those areas.

3) Let's be honest about this: low wage jobs are the backbone of this nation, like it or not, no matter your delusion about our economy. While Xboxes may put a bump into things, it's the folks who assemble computer parts, bullets, and mops that are the base of the economy. I hold no illusions that, because I move paper around my desk and earn a few bucks off finding discrepancies between what something costs and what it's worth, that I've contributed to the economy. I've merely tweaked it and fine tuned out some of the fat, and as business becomes more and more mechannized, my job will be obsolete soon enough: a computer does most of my number crunching now, and it's left up to me to try to find niches where I can exploit its talents.
Tony said his wife's driver's license expires next year, and they may have to move back to Ireland if immigration laws don't change.

"We have a great life. We love this country," he said. But "the noose is tightening around our throats every day. It's like we're squeezed and squeezed and squeezed slowly out of the country."
Final interesting point: you thnk the next wave of illegal immigration is going to be as dedicated and hard working as Tony?

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