How Immigrants Are Discriminated in the Business World

In surveying 4,387 workers in various low-wage industries, including apparel
manufacturing, child care and Studies have found that nearly three in every ten Hispanic workers feel they have been
discriminated against their employment. Some report being referred to with racial slurs at
work, while one in four feel they are paid less and have reduced career advancement prospects
than their Caucasian counterparts. In many organizations, there is a scarcity of Hispanics,
Latinos and Mexican-Americans in management positions. FBI statistics show a dramatic
increase in anti-Hispanic hate crimes. And sadly, hate groups are increasing due to anti-illegal
immigration concerns. A symbol to many Hispanics, Latinos and Mexican-Americans is the
construction of the U.S.- Mexico border fence which is actually several separation barriers
designed to prevent illegal movement of goods and people across the U.S. and Mexico border.
While much of the purported reasoning for the multi-billion dollar fence was based on
preventing the entry of terrorists into the country, many feel that reasoning is flawed while our
border with Canada remains open. While the efforts have also been aimed at stopping the flow of
drugs into the U.S., a secondary effort is to prevent the flow of weapons bought in the U.S. and
smuggled into Mexico. The fence will not stop illegal immigration along the border with
Mexico, although it may help prevent those who are crossing illegally from blending
immediately into some town populations. However, the fence is not continuous and where there are gaps, surveillance technology must be utilized. And then, there remains the fear that tunnels
will be used even more extensively than in the past. A section of the barrier was even mistakenly
built inside Mexican territory requiring its removal and rebuilding at a cost of over three million
dollars. Over forty tunnels have been found since 2001 and some have been extremely
sophisticated. One such tunnel from Tijuana to San Diego was half a mile long, sixty to eighty
feet deep, and eight feet tall. It had drainage, electricity and a concrete floor, and its entrance
from the California side was in a modern warehouse. The entrance to the tunnel in Mexico was
in another building. The border with Mexico is 1,951 miles in length. The fence that is reportedly
nearing completion was only completed for approximately 600 miles in February 2009, when
news reports came out that the fence was nearly finished. As a result of the construction of the
barrier, there has now been an increase in the number of people trying to cross in such areas as
the Sonoran Desert and over the Baboquivari Mountain in Arizona where in fence exists. This
requires crossing 50 miles of inhospitable terrain to reach the Tohono Obdham Indian
Reservation, which many fear may lead to an increase in migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico
border if the smugglers try these more difficult routes. In the last thirteen years, there have been
around five thousand migrant deaths along the border. There is no excuse for discrimination in America. (Gibson, 2009)
discount retailing, the researchers found that the typical worker
had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations, out of average weekly earnings of $339.
That translates into a 15 percent loss in pay. The researchers said one of the most surprising
Findings was how successful low-wage employers were in pressuring workers not to file for
workers??™ compensation. Only 8 percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for
compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work stemming from those injuries.
According to the study, 39 percent of those surveyed were illegal immigrants, 31 percent legal
immigrants and 30 percent native-born Americans. The study found that 26 percent of the
workers had been paid less than the minimum wage the week before being surveyed and that one
in seven had worked off the clock the previous week. In addition, 76 percent of those who had
worked overtime the week before were not paid their proper overtime. The study??™s authors noted
that many low-wage employers comply with wage and labor laws. The National Federation of
Independent Business, which represents small-business owners, said it encouraged members ???to
stay in compliance with state and federal labor laws.??? But many small businesses say they are forced to violate wage laws to remain competitive. The study found that women were far more
likely to suffer minimum wage violations than men, with the highest prevalence among women
who were illegal immigrants. Among American-born workers, African-Americans had a
violation rate nearly triple that for whites. ???When unscrupulous employers break the law, they??™re
robbing families of money to put food on the table, they??™re robbing communities of spending
power and they??™re robbing governments of vital tax revenues.??? The report found that 57 percent
of workers sampled had not received mandatory pay documents the previous week, which are
intended to help make sure pay is legal and accurate. Of workers who receive tips, 12 percent
said their employers had stolen some of the tips. One in five workers reported having lodged a
complaint about wages to their employer or trying to form a union in the previous year, and 43
percent of them said they had experienced some form of illegal retaliation, like firing or
suspension. In instances when workers??™ compensation should have been used, one third of
workers injured on the job paid the bills for treatment out of their own pocket and 22 percent
used their health insurance. Workers??™ compensation insurance paid medical expenses for only 6
percent of the injured workers surveyed. (Greenhouse, 2009)
Big business benefits from cheap, immigrant labor which it exploits with low wages and poor working conditions. Lax immigration policies in general, and unenforced employer
sanctions in particular, allow businesses like the garment and food service industries to recruit
and hire undocumented workers. The low wages these businesses pay to immigrant labor
contribute to driving down the wages for Americans. (Political Research Associates, 2002)
It turns out that the continuing arrival of immigrants to American shores is encouraging
business here, thereby producing more jobs, according to a new study. Its authors argue that the
easier it is to find cheap immigrant labor at home, the less likely that production will relocate
offshore. When companies move production offshore, they pull away not only low-wage jobs but
also many related jobs, which can include high-skilled managers, tech repairmen and others. But
hiring immigrants even for low-wage jobs helps keep many kinds of jobs in the U.S. In fact, when
immigration is rising as a share if employment in an economic sector, off shoring tends to be
falling, and vice versa. In other words, immigrants may be competing more with offshore
workers than with other laborers in America. We see the job-creating benefits of trade and
immigration everyday, even if we don??™t always recognize them. Low-skilled immigrants usually
fill gaps in American labor markets and generally enhance domestic business prospects rather
than destroy jobs; this occurs because of an important phenomenon, the presence of what are known as ???complementary??? workers, namely those who add value to the work of others. An
immigrant will often take a job as a construction worker, a drywall installer or a taxi driver, for
example, while native-born worker may end up being promoted to supervisor. And as
immigrants succeed here, they help the U.S. develop strong business and social networks with
the rest of the world, making it easier for us to do business with India, Brazil and most other
countries, again creating more jobs. We are all worried about unemployment, but the problem is
usually rooted in macroeconomic conditions, not in immigration or off shoring. The number of
illegal immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America fell 22 percent from 2007 to 2009;
their departure has not had much effect on the weak U.S. job market. Each immigrant consumes
products sold here, therefore also helping to create jobs. When it comes to immigration, positive-
sum thinking is too often absent in public discourse these days. Debates on immigration and
labor markets reflect some common human cognitive failings-namely, that we are quicker to
vilify groups of different ???others??? than we are to blame impersonal forces. Consider the fears that
foreign competition, off shoring and immigration have destroyed large numbers of American
jobs. In reality, more workers have probably been displaced by machines-as happens every time
computer software eliminates a task formerly performed by a clerical worker. Yet we know that machines and computers do the economy far more good than harm and that they create more jobs
than they destroy. Nonetheless, we find it hard to transfer this attitude to our dealings with
immigrants, no matter how logically similar ???cost saving machines??? and ???cost saving foreign
labor??? may be in their economic effects. Similarly, tariffs or other protectionist measures aimed
at foreign nations have a certain populist appeal, even though their economic effects may be
roughly the same as those caused by a natural disaster that closes shipping lanes or chokes off a
domestic harbor. As a nation, we spend far too much time and energy worrying about foreigners.
We also end up with more combative international relations with our economic partners, like
Mexico and China, than reason can justify. In turn, they are more economically suspicious of us
than they ought to be, which cements a negative dynamic into place. The current skepticism has
deadlocked prospects for immigration reform, even though no one is particularly happy with the
status quo. Against that trend, we should be looking to immigration as a creative force in our
economic favor. Allowing in more immigrants, skilled and unskilled, wouldn??™t just create jobs. It
could increase tax revenue, help finance Social Security, bring new home buyers and improve
the business environment. The world economy will most likely grow more open, and we should
be prepared to compete. That means recognizing the benefits-including the employment benefits-those immigrants bring to this country. (Cowen, 2010)