A reader writes:
I am a small town lawyer in a vital small town. As the building trades are extremely active here, Hispanics are the fasting growing minority by far. Large general contractors avoid the potential pitfalls of hiring illegal immigrants by hiring as many subcontractors (framing, plumbing, roofing, etc) as possible. But the number of Hispanics here has reached critical mass. In order to be competitive in the market, one must use Hispanic labor. Therefore, the subcontractors, who do only one thing, are the ones stuck with the potential risk of using illegal immigrants.
A recent event epitomizes some facets of the immigration problem you might find interesting. Client needs a substantial addition to his house. The lowest bidder by far (40% lower) is 100% Mexican. They are paid in cash. They do an extremely fine job, probably better than any non-Mexican group. But they are not able to do all the work (plumbing for instance) and a sub is found. This one does not hire immigrants. He comes on site, sees the Mexicans at work, gets back in his vehicle screaming about the G-D Mexicans, and drives away from the site, never to return.
This example is important for many reasons. First, from the consumer’s point of view, this is a no-brainer. The quality of the work is outstanding and cheap. Second, there is no big business ripping off the Mexicans in this example, as the group itself is Mexican and undercuts the market because it does not pay social security, medical insurance or worker’s compensation, and the workers live more cheaply than people who know they will be living here forever. Third, the level of hostility that is beginning to surface is palpable.
I am sure the problem has many more faces than we see here in the building trades, but I think it safe to say the problem defies simple analysis. It is multivariable.