Immigration – this is like having no laws at all
You can’t swing a dead cat in downtown Carbondale without hitting an illegal alien – or, at the very least, a Latino person whose immigration status a reasonable citizen would seriously question.The rationale for the fact that a nice little town has been taken over by illegals is the same one that George Bush offers when confronted by the subject: “They’re here doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do.”Oh, really? My résumé includes stints as a house painter, plumber’s helper, janitor, construction laborer, ski lift operator, hod carrier, maid, limo driver, carpenter and agricultural worker – exactly the jobs that George Bush says we won’t do. I’ve done menial work before, and I’ll do it again. We have some rental property, and a friend of mine called me to ask if we could rent an apartment to his Denver construction framing crew on a short-term basis. Since the unit was empty, my wife and I agreed. Having worked quite a few summers building houses to pay my way through college, I expected to see a crew of four or five guys who might be a little rough around the edges, maybe originally from Minnesota or Ohio, but Colorado residents.Nope. They were all Mexicans, and only one spoke English. After they finished, the siding crew showed up. They too were all Mexicans, but not one spoke a word of English.When I asked my buddy if they were legal, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, they all have Social Security cards and green cards that say they’re legal, so who am I to question that?”Just a decade ago, construction in the Roaring Fork Valley provided a pretty good living. Twenty years ago, wages were around $15-$25 an hour for good carpenters, and they’re not much more than that today. Compare that to the price of a new car between 1986 and today.Why did we give up all these jobs to illegal workers? Greed and laziness on a massive scale.Slopping drywall mud isn’t the most technical of jobs, and neither is pouring concrete, washing dishes, laying sod or cleaning hotel rooms. Paying an illegal worker cash under the table avoids messing with payroll taxes, worker’s compensation insurance and the extra $4-$5 an hour that a U.S. citizen expects. When you’re billing out laborers at $45 an hour and paying them $8 cash, with no worker’s comp or FICA deductions, it makes for a nice profit.Laziness comes in when you consider how parents coddle their children these days. I guarantee you that, on average, today’s teenagers spend double the time playing computer games that they do working after-school or summer jobs. Their parents would rather take out an extra loan on the house to pay for their baby’s college than to see their little boo-boo work during the summers. Of course, today’s average teenager is so fat, physically unfit, heavily tattooed or stupid that only 20 percent of them even qualify for military service. I guess it’s easier to hire a Mexican and refinance the house than it is to rip the video-game controls out of a teenager’s hands and make him get a job.On a societal level, the U.S. government has winked at illegals for years. First, big campaign contributions to both political parties come from produce and fruit farms, hotel chains, slaughterhouses and chicken processors – places that employ huge numbers of illegals. For crying out loud, who wants to gut chickens all day for minimum wage? Then, of course, those corporations paying minimum wage to illegals have to go through the charade of paying FICA taxes to fictitious Social Security numbers. Don’t think the U.S. Government hasn’t calculated how many billions of dollars it’s collected that will never be paid out. Then there’s the pressure from Mexico. Vicente Fox is stupid like – that’s right – a fox. Mexicans in the U.S. illegally send $40 billion a year back home, which accounts for a huge percentage of the Mexican economy. That’s not counting the billions of dollars in free medical care, high-quality education and social services that we provide Mexican citizens. Why make the wealthy Mexican elite pay their fair share, when we do it for them? Vicente Fox wants a 700-mile fence like he wants a case of bird flu.And if you think there are only 12 million illegals in this country, I’ve got news for you. If 500,000 of them come to a rally on one day in Los Angeles, all waving Mexican flags, that gives you an idea. It’s more like 25 million or 30 million. There’s just one problem: The American people are sick of it. The blatant flaunting of our immigration laws, the deterioration of our schools as we struggle to teach children who speak no English, the escalation in medical care costs, the growing population that fuels ever more development and overcrowding – people are sick of it. No politician but Colorado’s Tom Tancredo had the guts to take on the issue, and he has single-handedly brought it to the forefront of the national political agenda. What do we do about it? First, we have to institute a bar-coded, computerized national ID card that can be verified at any post office or Social Security office. Next, we need to change the laws granting American citizenship to any child born of illegal parents. No other country has such a law, and the “American citizenship by parenthood” law entices more illegal immigration than any other policy. Third, we need to verify each worker’s status upon new employment, and the fines for hiring illegal workers need to be significant. Fourth, we need to raise the minimum wage by at least three bucks an hour so people have the incentive to go to work and make a decent living.If not, then why not just open the floodgates and let them all in, because what we have now is like having no laws at all.Gary Hubbell and his wife, Doris, own OutWest Guides, LLC, in Marble, where they outfit summer horseback rides and autumn elk and deer hunts. Gary is a freelance writer and photographer and a native of Carbondale.
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Lift-Up has helped feed hungry families in the Roaring Fork Valley for 38 years, but experienced in a surge in demand this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is making changes to meet the demand and address allegations of incidents of discrimination.