Will illegal immigrants take the stimulus jobs?

January 28, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader

Will Obama insist Americans get the new infrastructure jobs?

Bush was fond of saying of illegal immigrants that they do the jobs that Americans won’t. (I’ve always felt that had more to do with what companies pay for those jobs.) Now, with so few jobs out there, many Americans are willing to reconsider what they’re willing to do, how hard they’re willing to work and how much money they’re willing to work for. Many are willing to consider new career options any option, as long as they can get a job. They’re hoping to get the infrastructure jobs that will come with the stimulus plan.

But will they?

Roads need repaired. Bridges need to be built. Wind turbines need to be put up. Schools need to be renovated. There will be public transportations projects. Thousands, perhaps millions of people will be newly employed by the companies and contractors that win the bids to take on these projects. But who’s to say those businesses will be employing Americans at decent salaries?

Greed is a powerful motivating force and these employers may be tempted to hire illegal immigrants, as they often do, for these labor-intensive jobs with the intention of saving money on labor and thereby increasing their bottom line. These projects are a potential gold mine for businesses big and small. Why would they waste that money paying high wages to Americans when they can get illegal immigrants to do the work for less, and without benefits? What makes us think these businesses will act in the same interest that the stimulus is intended? Greed, after all, did get us here.

If, ultimately, American taxpayers are supporting and paying for this stimulus under the promise that it will create jobs for American workers, shouldn’t they receive a guarantee that they will, in fact, go to American workers? Will there be fine print in the bill that requires companies that win these contracts to employ only American citizens?

I say this now, not because I hate illegal immigrants I don’t. (I’m for giving them a quick path to citizenship and getting them on the books as soon as possible.) I say this now because I can imagine the repercussions if Obama fails to include the “Americans only” disclaimer in the stimulus.

Imagine, we spend a trillion dollars of taxpayer money on this stimulus package. Roads are being improved, bridges are going up, but many Americans are still unable to get jobs, and are now seriously disgruntled because they know that they (and their children) are paying for a stimulus package that didn’t help them. So, one day, some poor unemployed soul drives by one of these construction sites. Now, you and I know that you can’t tell an illegal immigrant by looking, and Hispanic Americans are represented in higher proportions in these manual-labor fields. In fact, these Americans are some of the hardest hit by the recession as fewer and fewer projects break ground. But this unemployed spectator is angered by what he thinks he sees and goes home to call the local investigative reporter. You know the sort. Every Wednesday night they’re surprising some crooked small business owner in a parking lot with badgering questions about whatever scheme they were getting away with until “9News Investigates” got on the case.

Anyway, this enterprising and ambitious investigator does some digging and, sure enough, it turns out that illegal immigrants are being employed by the very contractors that won bids to build bridges and roads under the stimulus plan. It makes national news. Two nights later, Lou Dobbs does a special. The talking points go out and Fox News develops some clever phrase like “The Stimulagration Scandal” or “Stimugate” that they repeat over and over and over. And, like most things that conservatives introduce into the political lexicon, it gets picked up by the mainstream media. You hear it repeated on the Today Show, the Daily Show and the Tonight Show. America is good and pissed off, and Obama’s approval ratings plummet. He loses credibility and trust. He loses his political capital.

And that’s it. He’s done. Forget about re-election. And we can say goodbye to Progress.

We need to head this off NOW. Making sure these stimulus jobs go to American citizens is the right thing to do. And if we don’t do it, the consequences are dire.

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