Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category.

Higher Education Bubble: Trades Under Pressure from Illegal Immigration

As a parent of a teenager and an intellectual who somehow managed to avoid Academia, I’ve  followed the higher education bubble stories carefully. Glenn Reynolds has written and linked extensively on the subject, and Virginia Postrel places the blame on federal student aid. While I completely agree with Reynolds that the trades have gotten ignored in favor of college and university educations, I’ve noticed that he and others working to improve the image of the trades in the minds of young people are ignoring one important issue: the impact of illegal immigration on blue collar jobs.

Having moved to the rural South I have spent the past two years renovating our home. This task has put me into contact with numerous plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers, and handymen. All of them have been born and raised here, and none of them would recommend the trades to young people interested in making a living because of illegal immigration. I wrote about my early experiences with talking to these men here.

They are especially bitter when it comes to illegal immigration. Mexicans have flooded into North Carolina and driven down wages for skilled and semi-skilled workers. They are constantly underbid by contractors employing illegals at a fraction of the going hourly rate.

These men face the competition of teams of illegals everyday. They are locked out of larger jobs that hire a single contractor employing teams of illegals instead of American citizen subcontractors. When skilled Mexican tradesmen are paid minimum wage (or less), it’s difficult for those who hire sheetrock hangers and carpenters at the going rate ($15-$25/hr in these parts by my estimate) to compete. The success of these illegal teams has led to their usage on ever smaller jobs, the meat and potatoes of general contractors, leaving only the smallest jobs for the local contractors to compete against each other for. These usually have low margins and being small are difficult to make a living doing when traveling and buying supplies is included.

Long time readers will know that although conservative and free market oriented, I am no Ayn Rand disciple. The older I become the more I suspect that, as Neal Stephenson predicted in the cyberpunk classic Snow Crash, globalization has smeared things out into a worldwide layer of “what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider prosperity.” With New Economy industries employing fewer workers than the factory jobs they replace, those with college degrees are finding themselves without job security. Companies are offshoring everything they can, and it is only a matter of time before automation begins to nibble away at the creative jobs previously considered “safe” from either of these forces. It isn’t clear what jobs will replace them.

In a prior incarnation I actively fought offshoring and labor dumping by the government through its policies of lax immigration designed to flood the domestic market with cheap labor. I learned that the government uses technical visas like the H-1b and J-2 to allow skilled foreigners to lower the cost of labor and price out domestic white collar workers. Because these workers are compensated in part by the prospect of working in America – and in the case of the H-1b, with the potential reward of a green card three to seven years after their arrival – they could be paid a lower salary than equivalently skilled American workers. In effect the H-1b visa holders are subsidized by the American government: they receive a salary plus a visa that doesn’t cost the government anything but which they accept in lieu of cash. Their employers get cheaper labor that boosts their bottom-lines and grants them the flexibility of underbidding firms that only employ citizens or green card holders. This forces competing firms to either hire foreign labor or go out of business.

The case is the same with blue collar workers. Illegal immigrants come to the United States accept lower wages because they are receiving a government subsidy in the form of future citizenship. The likelihood of being found out or deported by the federal government is miniscule, especially at a time when the federal government is actively fighting efforts to tighten border controls and demands to increase arrests and deportations of illegal citizens. Again, this subsidy doesn’t cost the government anything, yet it provides a reward that is almost as good as cash to illegals who are paid under the table.

But there is a cost to this meddling by the federal government in the labor market: higher unemployment and the social costs that attend it such as increased criminality, alcohol and drug abuse, and the breakdown of the family. But these social costs don’t appear in the statistics – just as the illegal immigrants don’t either – and are ignored whenever talk turns to economics.

If white collar jobs are threatened by offshoring, the trades are threatened by illegal immigration and all jobs are threatened by automation, is the American worker and the economic system that is based on him or her doomed? Some believe that the changes over the next several decades could spell the end of work as we know it, as something that is viewed with dread and a sense of fatalistic duty changed into a system whereby each person pursues creative talents that will be in demand and that require imagination and perspective that computers and perhaps even foreigners won’t know how to do. One wag characterized it as everyone planning everyone else’s weddings – an updated and more positive prediction that we would all someday be slinging hamburgers to one another after manufacturing’s demise.

I’m not so sure. Perhaps such a future beckons, but in the meantime I would prefer that the government stop meddling in the labor market by increasing the porosity of America’s borders with the world. Sealing the border with Mexico would be a good place to start. A free market pool of labor is supposed to be a compromise between two competing forces: employers and employees. Labor dumping through lax immigration and “open border” policies undermine that compromise, allowing employers to dictate what they are willing to pay for a given skillset while being protected from a tight labor market by government policy. Employees have no redress other than to change jobs or if they are old enough, retire. If the government stopped interfering in the market to favor one side over the other, the domestic labor market would begin to function as a free market instead of an overly regulated, skewed one. If plumbers are in demand, their salaries will rise and people will start considering them (as Glenn Reynolds, Virginia Postrel and others suggest). Similarly, if java programmers are in demand, their salaries should rise to the point where colleges and IT bootcamps pump out java programmers to fill the demand. In both cases supply of workers would eventually overshoot demand (because companies by their very nature strive to become more efficient), and these salaries would stabilize and eventually decline.

Until that happens, white collar and blue collar workers, skilled and unskilled, educated and trained will have to always look over their shoulders afraid of the boss’s unexpected call for a personal meeting at the end of the day on Friday. Whether the boss’s collar is clean or dirty won’t matter as long as the government continues kicking up waves in the labor pool.

Update: The Financial Time reports on the difficulties employers have with finding skilled employees. This is a myth that is trotted out whenever employers want skilled workers but don’t want to pay what those skills demand. It also reflects laziness on the part of the employer. For example it begins quoting Drew Greenblatt from Marlin Steel Wire Products complaining about the inability to find three sheet metal setup operators for $80k in salary and overtime.

The article doesn’t say what the going rate is for sheet metal setup operators in the area. While $80k may sound like a reasonable salary to most people, Mr. Greenblatt obviously needs to pay more to fill the position. Either he is underpaying or the job is so esoteric and rare that no one does it so he will have to train someone. If the latter, why doesn’t he approach a sheet metal setup operator working for his competition and offer them a higher salary than they are making? That’s the way the free market is supposed to work.

The article offers support to this conclusion:

Without in-house training programmes, companies have often been left looking for staff with specific skills. “A generation ago, employers would hire and train employees. Now, they demand trained workers,” says Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school.

“The skills gap is largely a figment of companies’ imagination,” says Mr Cappelli. “They cannot find workers to do the very specific tasks they want done. That is different from not being able to find capable workers.”

CNN Becomes PC-NN

CNN lost the last reason to watch the network today when Lou Dobbs resigned. Apparently Dobbs got tired of justifying his job while in the sights of various pro-illegal immigrant and Hispanic groups who had targeted him over his vocal opposition to illegal immigration.

Roberto Lovato, co-founder of
“We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has the legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”

I suppose telling people to follow our laws in order to come here makes one “incite fear and hate” these days. Dobbs leaves while having one of the top rated shows on the network. No doubt the Hispanics celebrating his ouster will now tune in to make up for the viewers that Dobbs takes with him (anyone want to bet that he pops up on Fox within 6 months?) Of course since Hispanics don’t watch CNN to begin with, I wouldn’t bet that the network will see any bump in its ratings for appeasing these groups.

CNN has become a pale shadow of itself since the heady days of the Gulf War in August 1990. It’s a shame that the news organization that once prided itself on the quality of its news has become lost in a fog of political ideology and liberal slant that it doesn’t even know it is in. You would think that CNN would look at the success at Fox News and take a serious moral inventory of itself, but I guess it’s no surprise that the organization formed by Ted Turner would follow its founder off the deep end into moral relativist reporting under the guise of “objectivity”.

Illegals Take Jobs That Americans Won’t Do?


Applicants line up to fill jobs open after plant raid
LAUREL — Howard Industries found itself at the center of activity again Tuesday.

Hundreds of job applicants lined up, eager to take advantage of the sudden job openings at the plant located in Jones County, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.

ICE agents on Monday seized 595 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally. Several workers, who did not identify themselves, said Tuesday they were working and trying to keep the plant operational in the wake of the sudden loss of co-workers.

They said it was common knowledge many of their co-workers were suspected to be illegal.

It’s an idea that maddens Samantha Stevens, 18, of Heidelberg, who was among those who pulled up to Avenue A across from the plant’s entrance throughout the day. She said she has been unable to find a job since she graduated from Heidelberg High School in the spring and blames, in part, the willingness of companies to hire illegal workers.

“We were here first. It’s not fair for them to have a job,” she explained.

Hat-tip: Lawshawn Barber

Houston Family Pays for Sanctuary City Policies in Fiery Wreck

Houston mayor Bill White bristles at the labeling of his city as ‘Sanctuary City’ – one that does not enforce federal immigration law at the local level. In 2006 the mayor said, ‘’‘Houston is not a sanctuary city. The biggest concern on something like this is somebody trying to confuse the voters.’ Nevertheless, since 1992 the Houston Police have followed a directive forbidding them from determining the immigration status of those they question or arrest. Even the Congressional Research Service lists the city formally as a ‘sanctuary city’ in its report, ‘CRS Report for Congress, Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement.’

For a young family of three in Houston, it’s an issue of semantics that no longer matters. On August 14, 2007 Juan Felix Salinas, 42, from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, was charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter in the deaths of Tenisha Williams, 26; her husband, S.J. Williams; and her son, Xavier Brown, 2. According to Houston Police, Salinas was speeding on Interstate 10 before he slammed into the back of the Williams’s vehicle. It burst into flame as bystanders tried unsuccessfully to free the trapped family. Salina’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

This isn’t the first time Houston has had trouble with its controversial policy. In January 2003 an illegal immigrant driving a trash truck ran over a six year old boy. He got out of the truck, pulled the boy out from under it, and then drove away. He later fled to Mexico where he remains at large. The year before Walter Alexander Sorto, an illegal from El Salvador abducted, raped and murdered two Houston women. Sorto had been picked up by police numerous times for traffic violations, and was on probation for robbery at the time of the murders. In October 2006 illegal immigrant Juan Quintero allegedly shot and killed Houston police officer Rodney Johnson.

While it is true that illegal immigrants are responsible for a lower proportion of murders than the general population, this fact obscures the even greater truth: all of these crimes were completely preventable had federal law been abided to at the local level as is mandated by the US Constitution. Had federal immigration authorities been alerted after Salinas’s first brush with the law, the Williams’s would still be alive. Had Sorto been deported or at the very least barred from probation due to the greater likelihood that his immigration status made him a flight risk, Maria Moreno Rangel and Roxana Aracelie Capulin would still be alive.

The names of the victims of these men belie yet another truth: this is not a racial issue but a legal one. The Williams’s were African-American, as was Officer Rodney Johnson and the three college students executed and a fourth left to die in a Newark schoolyard by Jose Carranza on August 4th. All of Sorto’s victims were Hispanic as was the six year old run over by a garbage truck.

Civic leaders have consciously adopted policies that extend protection to non-citizens in direct conflict with state and federal law. They have done this to curry favor with interest groups and business organizations that rely upon a flow of illegal immigrants for support and as a pool of cheap labor.

According to the Ohio Jobs Justice PAC (OJJPAC) which tracks them, there are currently 125 cities having sanctuary policies from Anchorage Alaska to Miami Florida. It is time that these leaders of these cities are held accountable for these policies. While the federal and state governments should do everything necessary to force these cities to abide by state and federal laws as mandated by the Constitution, it is ultimately left to the citizens of these cities to hold their leaders accountable for their decisions.

After all they are the ones who are paying for these naive and misguided policies with their lives.

Scott Kirwin is a writer living in Delaware.

Is Newark’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Policy Partly To Blame For Student Massacre?

The murder of three college students in Newark New Jersey Saturday August 4th proves that even in a society that has witnessed horrific acts of violence in its relatively brief history, we haven’t lost the capacity for being shocked. As the perpetrators are rounded up, the alleged ringleader appears to be Jose Carranza, aka Jose La Chira.

Carranza is an illegal immigrant from Peru who has been in trouble with the law in Newark before. He was indicted by grand juries in New Jersey twice this year — in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges; and in July on 31 counts which included aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old and endangering the welfare of a child he had a duty to supervise.

In both incidents, Carranza was granted and posted bail – a rarity according to Alan L. Zegas, a noted New Jersey defense lawyer.

‘The level of risk of flight increases exponentially when a person is not a citizen of this country and has few, if any, roots here,’ Zegas said in an interview with Fox News.

After being granted bail, Carranza is alleged to have threatened the life of the five year old girl he raped as well as her parents. These threats did not result in his bail being revoked, nor was any efforts made into determining his immigration status as he awaited trial. Even now after his arrest in the triple homicide, the authorities involved in the case are playing down this aspect of the case. Thomas McTigue, assistant prosecutor handling the murder cases stated, ‘Our focus hasn’t been his immigration status.’

Perhaps the reason the Newark prosecutors focus was not on his immigration status was the fact Newark is a ‘Sanctuary City’ – where local officials do not enforce immigration laws. Newark New Jersey adopted ‘Sanctuary City’ policies earlier this year – prior to Carranza’s alleged crimes.

What exactly do these ‘Sanctuary City’ policies do? In a March 1, 2007 story by the north New Jersey newspaper, The Record, Paterson Councilman-at-large Rigo Rodriguez said, ‘The residents of this city must be able to go to the supermarket, ride in a car, walk down our streets, without fear that they will be arrested and not be able to go home that night,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Immigration officials need to deal with illegal immigrants at the border. Their failure to control that is why they end up in our cities.

‘Once they’re here, it shouldn’t be our job to deal with their immigration status,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Once they’re here, they’re members of our community and our role is to make them feel safe and comfortable here. They simply shouldn’t be harassed.’

In essence proponents of these policies like Councilman Rodriguez call for granting the same Fourth Amendment rights, ‘to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,’ to illegal immigrants as to citizens. Cities such as Newark New Jersey then become ‘safe zones’ where illegal immigrants can enjoy the benefits of US citizenship without bearing its costs or shouldering its responsibilities.
Was Carranza granted special treatment because the authorities believed he was an illegal immigrant? Was the Newark prosecution or the judge on his prior cases afraid to consider Carranza’s immigration status when granting bail for fear of causing a firestorm of controversy in the large Latino community?

And finally, how did an illegal immigrant from Peru have the money to post $200,000 worth of bond? Even at 10% someone would have had to come up with $20,000 – a sum that an illegal immigrant would be unlikely to have.

Three young American students are dead and another grievously wounded at the hands of a murderer and his motley crew. While ultimate responsibility lies with the killers, there can be no doubt that Newark’s justice system failed those kids that Saturday night in that New Jersey schoolyard.

Scott Kirwin is a freelance writer living in Delaware.