ImmigrationReform and the Workforce
Accordingto Oxford English dictionary, an immigrant is a person who moves ormigrates from one country to another and ends up settlingpermanently. The main reason why people migrate is to look for betterlife for themselves and their families. Many people, especially inAmerica, are today complaining about an increase in the number ofimmigrants in the country, making even the Republican presidentialcandidate Donald Trump pledge on returning all illegal immigrants totheir mother countries once elected the American President. Afterthey migrate to another country, immigrants are always ready totackle whatever job available, but them getting a job is usuallyincredibly difficult. They also face the problem of a languagebarrier as some face trouble speaking English. In addition, the eliteimmigrants who have academic documents ends up frustrated asemployers mainly go for work expertise within U.S. Even after somesecuring employment, they face issues such as discrimination andexploitation in their workplaces. The above difficulties plus others,calls for immigration reform, to try helping these immigrants.According to statistics, an estimated 12 million illegal immigrantsare currently residing in the U.S and most of these immigrants are inthe workforce.
Onemain reform required is increasing the knowledge of employers on theissue of hiring immigrants, for many employers in the U.S lack lawknowledge. The employers should understand that immigrants,documented or undocumented possess similar wage and hour rights justlike other employees. Immigrants in the U.S are suffering in thehands of their employers as some employers fail to pay the immigrantsdue to their illegal immigration status. The employers always remindthese immigrants that they should not be working in that place in thefirst place since they have no registration papers. Many of theseemployers do not understand the rights of these immigrants. Theythink that they have the right to discriminate against theundocumented workers. The Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986(IRCA) does not allow an employer to knowingly hire undocumentedworkers (Nessel21).Employers need to ask for documents first, and the documents have tobe genuine. Further, the employers do not know that general lawscover even undocumented workers. For example, an employer cannot firean undocumented worker for being pregnant since she is anundocumented immigrant, as general laws cover undocumented workersfrom discrimination. However, it is essential to reform some of theselaws. For example, some laws require employers to show the documentsof their immigrant employees, but fake documents are availablenowadays, and it is sometimes difficult to know if employee’s workdocuments are fake or legitimate.
Employersmainly focus on making profits. The moment they see an undocumentedworker, they see an opportunity for exploitation. They do not see thevalue the worker will add to their businesses. Employers do not knowthat they can be of great help to these undocumented workers. Allthey require to do is file a petition to help the worker obtainimmigrant or nonimmigrant classification. Approval of the petitionhelps the undocumented worker obtain Form I-797, which is a Notice ofAction (Nessel25).The approval notice is of great importance as one may use it to applyfor a visa.
Researchby Goodman shows that by the year 2000, undocumented workers had ledto an increase in American wealth by 1 percent (Goodman2).Undocumented workers’ efforts and contributions have seen manyeconomic sectors rise. Among these sectors include construction andagriculture. The undocumented workers fit in these sectors since workinvolved is heavy and unsafe, and many Americans handle jobs that areconsidered secure. If immigrants were to be chased away from U.S,construction companies might be greatly affected as the sectorutilizes immigrant labor. The work also requires less education andtraining, making it more suitable for the undocumented workers.
Immigrationreforms are of paramount not only to the immigrants but also to USA’seconomy. U.S does not need to spend billions of dollars to find anddeport immigrants, who in many occasions possess skills necessary fora construction company. Reforms are of necessity to help easyregistration of these undocumented immigrants, which will see thempay taxes necessary for economic progress. Further, immigrationreform will not only protect immigrant workers, but also the Americanworkers. Employers drive wages down any moment they feel like, but areform in immigration will change the trend. For example, ifemployers treat the undocumented workers fairly, it will be difficultfor employers to drive down wages each day.
Anotherbenefit of immigration reform is that some U.S industries, such asthose dealing with construction and agriculture, require a largeworkforce. The workforce in construction sectors works for longhours, which require them to be physically strong. Reforming theimmigration workers conditions will boost not only the constructionsector, but also hospitality and agricultural sectors that heavilyrely on immigrant workers. The aging of the American workforce andU.S citizen youth search of white-collar jobs may leave those sectorsrequiring manual labor at risk (LeMay28).This is another reason why immigration reform is of paramount to helpmaintain a balanced and a stable workforce in U.S.
Thegovernment and other security stakeholders also need to work towardsreforming immigration legal options. They need to separate smugglersfrom immigrants who come to U.S genuinely to better their lives. Agood immigration reform will only enable immigrants to enter U.S witha visa instead of smugglers. One way to separate the two is throughborder screening, to remove the immigrants who enter U.S to harmAmericans or to abuse the broken system.
Immigrationand workplace enforcement are the main issues affecting migration tothe U.S. A serious effort is of paramount to ensure reforms in theimmigration sector. The reforms need to curb illegal immigration andstrengthen employers’ capacity to hire employees of their choice.Out of the 12 million illegal immigrants in U.S, about 5 millionmigrated to U.S to work (LeMay32).Therefore, there is a need to improve the way in which employersverify their workers. The government needs to focus on addressing thedemand for both high and low-skilled labor, legalizing mostundocumented immigrants, and tightening border security.
Documentedand undocumented immigrants face many discriminations, as they areoften denied the civil rights protection, which makes them sufferfrom poor pays or labor in an unsafe and unhealthy environment(Nessel43).The employers take the advantage of the undocumented immigrants todeny them their pay as earlier mentioned. However, some employerslack knowledge of laws governing the hiring of immigrants. It is,therefore, necessary for government and individuals to engage ineducating people about human migration, human rights, and immigrationpolicies, to reduce cases of immigrant abuse. The government alsoneeds to eliminate cumbersome procedures present during registrationof immigrants. In addition, those working with immigrants need tohelp them acquire the required documentations. Laws also need toprotect the undocumented workers from employers who abuse them due tolack of legal papers.
Theabove illustration is evidence that immigration is a current issue inthe U.S. Many of these immigrants enter the U.S in such of better payor jobs, to improve their living conditions. However, they meet withemployers who do not understand the legal rights of the undocumentedworkers, which create chaos. Other employers do not even know how toverify if one is documented or not, neither do they know how to helpthese undocumented workers get government verification, to allow themwork without fear. Chasing the undocumented immigrants or anyimmigrant from U.S is not a solution to the immigration problemsfacing America. What the country requires are good reforms that seesthe undocumented workers acquire legal documents without muchdifficulty (Nessel56).This is because, these immigrant workforces contribute largely to thedevelopment of the U.S economy. Immigrants mainly offer manual labor,which is at a higher demand in the country as a large group of U.Scitizen workforce is aging and the youth feel that with their higheducational qualifications, manual labor is not for them. For them,white-collar jobs are the ones that fit their professionalqualifications. Therefore, sectors requiring manual laborers such asagriculture and construction cannot afford to lose the immigrantworkforce.
Goodman,H. A. "Illegal Immigrants Benefit The U.S. Economy".Illegalimmigrants benefit the U.S. economy(2014): Print.
LeMay,Michael C. TransformingAmerica: Perspectives on U.s. Immigration.Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2013. Print.
Nessel,Lori A. "Undocumented immigrants in the workplace: The fallacyof labor protection and the need for reform." Immigr.& Nat`lity L. Rev. 22(2011): 303.