Saturday, February 6, 2010

Undocumented Workers

America is hailed as the "land of opportunity" by foreigners. Millions of people dream of coming to this country and chasing the "American dream;" however, because legal entry into the states is so desirable, it's also incredibly difficult to obtain. The average wait for a worker's visa is two years. Because obtaining the paperwork necessary for being a legal resident is so costly and complicated, many foreigners have taken entry into their own hands and are illegally residing within America's borders.

The most commonly cited statistics indicate that there are presently more than 12 million illegal residents in the United States. While federal officials scramble to create legislation that adequately addresses this problem, millions of workers are being employed illegally, and their labor is being exploited by big businesses.


Despite legislation that makes it illegal for an employer to hire undocumented workers, it is happening on a large-scale every day. Countless factories rely on illegal immigrant labor to function. In the eyes of business owners, illegal workers are an asset in many ways.

1. Cheap labor. Undocumented workers enter the United States because they are seeking an economic opportunity that their home country cannot provide. Working for less than minimum wage in America still exceeds the pay they would likely receive in their home countries. Their low standards allow big business owners to increase profits.

2. No benefits. Without proper documentation, illegal workers are not eligible to receive benefits, such as health insurance. Providing an employee with benefits is one of the largest expenses swallowed by businesses, so undocumented workers' illegal status enables businesses to increase profits.

3. Inability to unionize. When a factory employs primarily undocumented workers, they ensure that their employees are unable to unionize about unfair pay and poor working conditions. If the workers do decide to unite for better conditions, the company can threaten them with deportation or, worse yet, pack up and relocate their company to another impoverished area, leaving thousands of workers suddenly unemployed.

Failed Legislation

Despite several attempts at immigration reform, the policies proposed by the government ultimately fail to address the problem. Increased border security and swollen budgets for INS officials does not target the reason for the flood of illegal immigrants into America. The current legal process for obtaining residency needs reformation, and the big businesses that are hiring undocumented workers need to be penalized. If the illegal residents were entering a country in which they could not find work, they would not stick around.

The current policy is not only hurting the American unskilled workforce, but it is creating a humanitarian crisis for illegal residents. For more information about the employment of illegal workers, contact the San Antonio employment lawyers of Melton & Kumler, LLP.
Joseph Devine

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