***Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
***Acceptance of one another;
***Demonstrating a responsible search for truth and meaning;
***The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our society at large;
***The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
***Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
I begin writing this because I sit on a UU committee out of Harrisburg called UUPLAN that deals with Immigration issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I’ve been a member of the League of Women Voters since 1983 and was very involved with an immigration study we had back in 2007/2008 and due to the fact that I am in the Human Resources’ field, I am fully aware of the need we Americans have for the immigrant population in our midst.
The League of Women Voters did a comprehensive study (which is how the LWV works, in case you didn’t know….many people think that the League only sponsors debates but the League is, in some ways, a lobbying organization in its own right and after studying an issue from the grass roots, the League will attempt to ‘sway’ legislation in the League’s favor. However, most League members tend to aspire to the seven principles notated above.) As a result of the LWV study, the League believes that:
“immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises. Provisions should also be made for qualified persons to enter the United States on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law.”
There are a number of major ways that immigrants are crucial to the modern American and global workforce:
***Whether you obtain your produce from a local CSA or a supermarket, farm workers keep your dining table plentiful. Stephen Colbert, Comedian, demonstrated the aversion of American workers to farm labor when he quit farm labor after just one day. While most actual American workers last more than a day, studies show that American workers simply do not stick with farm labor. After officials in Georgia took up an anti-immigrant law, 11,000 vacant farm jobs were left unfilled along with rotting fields of fruits and vegetables. Some farmers faced a labor shortage so severe that they were almost forced out of business. Yet even though immigrants make up an overwhelming majority of the nation’s agricultural workforce, they suffer horrendous working conditions, wage theft and are among the poorest of the working class.
***Immigrant tax contributions make it possible for American workers to have adequate care in their retirement years. Even as a recent study found that elderly Latinos are more likely to spend their retirement at or near the poverty level, they, along with other immigrants, likely spend their prime working years contributing to the Medicare system surplus and sustaining the Social Security Trust Fund. As long as they have a social security number or a tax identification number, legal and undocumented immigrants alike pay into both systems. Some undocumented immigrants cannot collect on the benefits for either system, so their contribution is one-sided.
***Immigrants and their children are necessary to replace Baby Boomers in the workplace. Baby Boomers will leave 58.6 million job openings in the next two decades. Because the native-born population will not be enough to fill the number of jobs left by Baby Boomers, the immigrant population will be directly necessary to replenishing the 7.3 million still needed in the workplace.
***Immigrants help raise American wages. If one looks at the most recent immigration wave from 1990 to 2006, we learn that the immigrant employment participation increased the earnings of the US worker by about 0.6 percent. But looking ahead to future immigration, immigrant laborers are also expected to raise the earnings of US workers by at least 0.4 percent. In spite of claims that immigrants take jobs away from native-born workers, studies find that immigrants bring different, complementary skills and fill the demand for jobs that would otherwise go unfilled, such as farm labor. Immigrants are also more willing than native-born workers to travel with changes in the labor market, stabilizing the national employment landscape.
***Undocumented workers do work that Americans do not want to do. Given that Americans do not normally compete with undocumented workers for jobs, there has not been a significant shift in the wage rate. Why then is hurt by these immigrants doing jobs that ‘we will not do’? For instance, those without high school diplomas. It is estimated that undocumented workers lower wages by approximately 3 to 8 percent for low-skill jobs. Americans who ‘compete’ with immigrants for these jobs stand to make an additional $25 a week if undocumented immigration were to be severely cut down.
***At the same time, lower wages paid to undocumented workers in low-skill positions cuts the cost of production, which can lead to lower prices for the American consumer in industries such as restaurants, agriculture and construction. Immigrants also save jobs in some ways. By providing work at low cost, immigrant workers keep firms from investing heavily in new, expanding technologies that would make their firms significantly less labor-intensive and more automated.
***Also, immigrants contribute to the global economy and their native country’s respective economies. Immigrants send a good portion of their money back to their home country in the form of remittances, they also stimulate the US economy by going out and spending much of the money they make.
Overall, most of us sitting in this country today are here as a result of peoples emigrating to the United States from all corners of the world. Every so often a different ethnic group is arriving in larger numbers and we adjust or attempt to adjust our policies. One of the other topics that the League of Women Voters supports is federal compensation for the States/Cities/Towns that are severely affected by this wave of immigration.
There are a number of political arguments both for and against immigration. However, we need to look at the following and focus on acceptance of President Obama’s Executive Order:
***Improved technology to facilitate employer verification of employee status;
***Verification documents, such as status cards and work permits, with secure identifiers;
***Significant fines and penalties for employers who hire unauthorized workers;
***Improved technology for sharing information among federal agencies;
***More effective tracking of individuals who enter the United States;
***Increased personnel at borders.
I will write more on Friday of this week about the need for the United States to stop offshoring our technical workers and insure that we train our workforce members to be competitive in this global economy.
If you have any questions regarding your organization and the hiring of various individuals or questions about the I-9 process or how to e-verify your potential employees, please contact Rosanne Bennett at SCB Services, LLC at 484-947-7063 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.