They took our jobs! Wait, you want me to do what?! Why Americans need to stop complaining about immigrants taking their jobs
Every once in a while when I’m feeling too happy and content with life I switch on Fox News or any other ‘socially conservative’ news outlet to balance my positive emotions with some aggressive, angry, and mostly false reporting about Mexicans taking American jobs and ruining American life for those who happened to be born north of the imaginary line in the sand we call a border (but not too north..)
We’ve all had the conversation with family and/or friends about immigration, agriculture and how hard immigrant workers push themselves in an effort to enjoy a safe, happy, and prosperous life. I’ve noticed that when someone says that immigrants are “taking their jobs,” the statement is usually rooted in racism and ignorance of the human condition.
I live in Hollister California which is surrounded by produce farms that ship food all over the country. I drive past the fields almost daily and watch the workers harvest their crop in the hot Californian sun, most workers actually wear sweaters in the heat as a cooling technique, go figure. Every time I see these hard working people I realize how little they are being paid, how different their lives are than mine, and how their work is part of a system that millions of people depend on. I would love for all people to grow and produce all of their own food, (or at least just buy/trade with neighbors/community members) because our system of mass food production & distribution requires a vast amount of low paid hard working humans.
Recently, some American state lawmakers have been toughening up their immigration laws which has resulted in a lack of farm workers in some states. In Alabama, a potato farmer named Keith Smith told the AP that he saw the majority of his staff leave the state after a new immigration law took effect. The farmer resorted to filling the positions with humans who were born on this side of the soon-to-be finished fence, but the American workers proved to be far inferior of their Mexican predecessors. According to the farmer, the replacement workers would show up late, work too slowly, try to leave after only half a day’s work, and allot quit after just one shift.
“I’ve had people calling me wanting to work,” Smith said. “I haven’t turned any of them down, but they’re not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience.”
The agriculture industry itself has already taken a big hit this year as farmers in multiple states have had to let their crops die or grow less altogether. Many farmers are left worrying about what to do about next year’s crop, knowing that there will not be enough skilled hands ready and willing to go to work.
The same story is being told in Georgia where Connie Horner cannot find legal American workers for her blueberry farm. They all complain about the heat, the hours and the pay.
“You can’t find legal workers,” Horner said. “Basically they last a day or two, literally.”
The Georgian berry farmer, who runs an eight and a half acre organic blueberry farm tells the AP that she tried to use the US governments visa work program, but the process was too pricey and time consuming. As a result of the failed bureaucracy that is our current immigration system, Connie has decided to drop the organic label to use a machine to pick the berries in future harvests.
So what is the answer to this dilemma? Will the newest generation of American youth be willing to give up their cushy office job lifestyle for the farm life, or can we somehow create a better system of immigration? Perhaps the lack of farm workers for the large farms will help push our failing culture towards locally based economies rather than a global one. For now I will continue to grow my own produce, respect those who pick others’, and advocate for eating locally grown produce.