“They’re Stealing Our Jobs”


One of the classic lines against immigration–besides quips about drug smuggling–is that immigrants are taking jobs that “rightfully belong” to American workers.  Mexican workers have faced the brunt of the backlash, beginning in the 1940s during World War II, when the Bracero Program was introduced (Kwong 301).  More conservative Americans believe that undocumented immigrants who work in the United States are driving down wages and leaving fewer employment opportunities for citizens.  These are fallacies, as evidenced in the EPI Briefing Paper on Immigrants and Wages.

According to this report, illegal immigration was detrimental to other immigrant workers, not workers who were born in the United States.  U.S. workers with less than a high school education saw an increase in wages, while foreign-born workers with less than a high school education had decreased wages (Shierholz 2).  Nevertheless, Hispanic immigrants are still simultaneously blamed for Americans being unable to find work, while being depicted as lazy individuals who use the government to avoid getting a job.

That is not to say that America’s immigration policy is perfect, but reform policies should not be based on racism and discrimination.  Americans fear what they do not understand, and instead of educating ourselves, we try to remove any source of discomfort.  Language is an example of this.  There is a joke that goes, “What do you call people who speak two languages?  Bilingual.  What do you call people who speak three languages?  Trilingual.  What do you call people who speak one language?  American.”  There are plenty of viral videos of white Americans telling those speaking another language to “speak American.”  And while President Trump did not create or exacerbate racism, he has made it acceptable to vocalize discriminative ideals and refer to Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers.

There needs to be a happy medium between bleeding-heart liberal policies and conservative “build the wall” ideologies.  One thing is for certain: loss of jobs cannot be attributed to immigrants.

Further reading: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/us/immigrants-arent-taking-americans-jobs-new-study-finds.html?_r=0

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  1. I think as Americans, we not only remove our sources of discomfort due to the fear of what we do not understand, but simply because of fear itself. We blame others for causing this fear and avoid the task of resolving our prevalent issues. In 2016, a federal judge was presiding over a fraud case against Trump University and Trump suggested that the judge would be partial in his judgement simply because he was Mexican. Here, we see that Trump is afraid of being caught in a scandal and does not want the judge (who was actually born in the US), to prevent him from excelling in his political agenda. No community wants a bad reputation for themselves, but through his policy and personal opinions, Trump is doing exactly that to not only the Latinos but to others as well. Immigrants, whether illegal or legal, form a major part of the workforce and have gone on to make major contributions to society. By limiting their entry or amount of opportunity (for those already in the US), we may perhaps be limiting our nation from living up to its true potential.

  2. If it weren’t for immigrants or immigration America would not exist. It may have still been owned by Native Americans or maybe it would’ve been taken over or colonized by another superpower nation. Without the labor of immigrants (illegal or legal alike) this countries railroads, skyscrapers, highways, and other modern structures wouldn’t exist. You don’t see affluent Americans doing the labor its usually people of low income or the underpaid illegal immigrants working. All of this is to support our luxuries in this country and to support there families with less than basic food and shelter. The best example of Immigrant labor and their amazing contribution is shown when it is no longer available. In Peter Kwong’s “What’s Wrong with the U.S. Immigration Debate?” he points out the fact that on May Day 2006, Latino community leaders asked all immigrants to boycott work and school in order to protest the HR 4437 Bill. The bill was going to make illegal immigrants felons who would have been deported. The bill didn’t pass but the turnout for the boycott was higher than 1.5 million people across the U.S. In Chicago alone 700,000 people took part. This shocked Washington and Republicans were forced to retract the bill. What jobs are legal or illegal immigrants stealing? Working behind a cash register? or painting someone’s home for cheap labor? Being a delivery person? Without cheap labor were would construction, renovation, food industry, and so on be? When will this idiotic ideology cease? Without immigrants this country will turn into a wasteland of close-minded white people, who are too affluent and unwilling to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” but can throw around that phrase with ease. No affluent American is carrying bags of construction waste that weighs 70-100lbs. down 6 flights of stairs to renovate an apartment in NY.

  3. I definitely agree that Americans are looking for someone to blame for their misfortunes in the job market. While Americans are claiming that immigrants are using the government to avoid getting a job, Americans are doing so in the same way by using immigrants as a scape goat to avoid confronting the issue of employment at a larger scale. Immigrants can not be blamed for all Americans bad luck in the job market. There are obviously other issues existing such as gender and racial bias that affect the job market. I believe that since Trump has come into office these ideals have intensified and immigrants have been blamed for not only the job market, but for other economic troubles and crime. It’s time to tackle the issues in America head on rather than replacing the problem with stereotyping and prejudice against immigrants.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with what Sara wrote. The whole idea of Immigrants stealing American jobs is a joke. When an immigrant comes to this country illegally they tend to have to work these off the books, long hour, low wage jobs because they fear getting caught if they work on the books. When they come here legally they still suffer massive discrimination in the workplace especially if they have a heavy accent of some sort. For an immigrant to “steal” a native born’s job they’d have to work triple as hard as we do and the persons whose job was “stolen” would have had to be pretty lazy – which is their own fault. Americans have plenty of opportunities to better themselves and do well and if they don’t take those opportunities seriously they have no one to blame but themselves.

  5. I agree with you that Americans can be very closed minded and ignorant when it comes to immigration. The way we jump in to conclusions without actually fully processing our thoughts and what we are shown in media is outrageous. Another example of this comes from Trump’s Muslim Ban, his supporters were so quick to support that policy because they believed that keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S would keep terrorists out, basically generalizing and deeming all Muslims to be terrorist. Much like how we have deemed immigrants, especially South American and Mexican Immigrants as tax free criminals. The problem with immigration is not actually the immigrants themselves but how the government decides to handle immigration. Your few lines about how we need to find some sort of middle ground is what I feel should happen as well. The harsh thinking of the conservatives makes no sense, immigrants are people. People who are trying to find a better life, we shouldn’t treat them like high criminals for trying to do better.

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