It’s hard to believe that President Donald Trump is really concerned about undocumented immigrants in this country or those coming to it seeking refuge with his national emergency declaration of a border crisis. The man is a clear opportunist seeking approval from his loyal constituents while the perception of fully, even blindly, dedicated to getting his way regardless of the cost. But as long as there is a clear and present enemy to contend with, Trump will always have backers. The hypocrisy, however, is when headlines such as this Feb. 19 article from The Hill continue to make waves: “More than 100 undocumented immigrants worked at Trump’s Bedminster resort during construction: report.”
There is serious dysfunctionality in our society in perpetuating longterm, often hostile living conditions for those who are abiding illegally in the United States. Not only do these immigrants live under constant threat of deportation but they are also underpaid for all sorts of jobs, from agriculture to the service industry and more. According to the Center for Immigration studies, in an August 2018 report “There Are No Jobs Americans Won’t Do,” undocumented immigrants “work mostly in construction, cleaning, maintenance, food service, garment manufacturing, and agricultural occupations. However, the majority of workers even in these areas are either native-born or legal immigrants.”
While the Center argues that the aforementioned industries are not dominated by illegal workers, the percentages are as follows, with the remaining not legal to work in the U.S.:
Maids and housekeepers: 51 percent native-born (U.S. citizens)
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 54 percent native-born
Butchers and meat processors: 64 percent native-born
Grounds maintenance workers: 66 percent native-born
Construction laborers: 65 percent native-born
Janitors: 73 percent native-born
Surely, many employers in these industries have become accustomed to hiring at lower wages than what the living costs call for, which has an exponential impact on legal residents and their ability to work in the same industries and get paid a living wage. Understandably, for many undocumented immigrants, living conditions here, even with a multiple families living in the same house to cover rent, are better than what they faced at home. But for the standards Americans have become accustomed to, it perpetuates an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s easy to reason why this country has become polarized in its view of undocumented immigrants. With that in mind, however, immigrants do some seriously back-breaking work for very little in the agricultural fields of Ventura County. The reality is not necessarily that ag work keeps costs low at the grocery store, but rather that there is food available at all, given that very few citizens would go into that work.
With Trump’s alarmist approach to undocumented immigrants, we are in fact in a farm labor shortage: CalAgJobs, which connects farm businesses with employees, reported in July 2018 that there are two jobs available in agriculture for every job seeker across the nation, and in California, there are four jobs open for every applicant.
At the border itself, with the U.S. now hostile to illegal immigration, there are reports of stranded South American immigrants stuck in Tijuana after being turned away or deported by U.S. officials. Further, there are reports of sexual misconduct on foreign children taken from their parents at the border. It’s a wonder any foreigner would still be trying to make their way to the U.S. illegally at this time.
On Feb. 26, House Democrats passed a measure to overturn the national emergency declaration though fell short of the two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, discussed the legality of the national emergency declaration. But in reality, there are always ways to get around a wall and $5 billion to build it is a waste of taxpayer dollars — and the cost of the three week government shutdown to negotiate money for the wall cost exponentially more, estimated in the tens of billions in lost business, affecting more than just government employee checks. It’s time for the president to focus on how to Make America Great Again, and a wall was never a part of America’s past to greatness.