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“Silent” immigration raid in Minneapolis is more humane but still traumatic for mixed-status families

LatinaLista — Last month in Minneapolis, over a thousand janitors were fired from their jobs with a janitorial cleaning service. Not because they didn’t do their jobs well. From all accounts, they did their jobs just fine. No, they were let go because they couldn’t prove they were in the country legally.

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Unlike the Bush years, the Department of Homeland Security had no need to grandstand for the media in conducting this new version of an immigration raid.

Though the loss of a job is devastating for anyone, losing a job by being fired is a lot less traumatic on an undocumented immigrant’s family than seeing a loved parent shackled and carted off to not be seen again.

In that regard, the Obama Administration got the message from advocates for humane treatment of undocumented immigrants. No one was arrested or known to be flagged for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — just told “You can’t work here.”

For the immigrants who lost their jobs, it’s a sore loss of income so near the holidays. It’s reported that the cleaning service paid their workers $13/hour and to these immigrants that was good money that they were able to stretch to pay rent, buy food, clothe their families, send some back home and still have a little left over for emergencies and entertainment.

The critics of undocumented immigrants are already screaming about how this raid was conducted and the people let go but this raid focuses on what the crux of illegal immigration is all about — the employers.

So this cleaning service, ABM, had 1200 slots to fill. The number fired was three times more than the amount of undocumented workers arrested in Postville, Iowa.

It seems a lot of people were attracted to the job openings, and according to reports, ABM has filled all 1200 slots. Yet if history repeats itself, these people won’t stay long if they are new to doing hard labor day-in-and-day-out.

A recent installment to a report by the Immigration Policy Center titled The Disparity between Immigrant Workers and Unemployed found that even if there was a massive deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, their jobs would most likely not be filled by unemployed natives nor help the economy.

Even during a time of economic recession and high unemployment, most native-born workers do not compete with most immigrants for the same jobs. This is apparent even when we compare unemployed natives with employed “recent” immigrants who came to the United States within the past decade.

Unemployed natives and employed recent immigrants tend to have different levels of education, to live in different parts of the country, to have experience in different occupations, and to have different amounts of work experience. As a result, they could not simply be “swapped” for one another.


The U.S. economy will not be lifted out of recession by removing immigrant workers from the labor force. Rather, the key to recovery is creating jobs. Encouraging unemployed machinists on the East Coast to become food servers on the West Coast is not a recipe for long-term economic growth.

In fact, a separate report published in 2008 points out that removing such a large demographic from the American economy would have devastating consequences for the economy:

For the US as a whole, the immediate negative effect of eliminating the undocumented workforce would include an estimated $1.757 trillion in annual lost spending

$651.511 billion in annual lost output

8.1 million lost jobs.

If all undocumented workers were removed from the workforce, a number of industries would face substantial shortages of workers, and Americans would have to be induced into the labor pool or provided incentives to take jobs far below their current education and skill levels.

For this phenomenon to occur to a meaningful extent, substantial wage escalation would likely be necessary, thus eroding competitiveness in global markets.

Hindsight will fully reveal exactly how the U.S. economy has evolved in depending on undocumented immigrant labor, not just for their sweat, but in keeping costs down and making consumer goods, food and services affordable for the average American.

Good or bad there has always existed an hierarchy of workers. Theoretically, those with the least amount of education get paid the least while those with the most education get paid the most — and those who speak with a foreign accent or don’t have the proper paperwork or credentials do the work most citizens would rather pay someone else to do anyway.



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  • cookie
    November 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    First off I would like to comment on the sign that the illegal is carrying. No, she doesn’t work hard for America. She works hard for herself. We all work for our OWN economic gain.
    A shortage of American workers is baloney. Who do you think did those jobs before the illegals arrived on the scene? And no, the employers do not pass any of their savings on to the consumer they pocket it.
    I don’t see where any of those places that were raided in the past had to close their doors due to the exit of illegal aliens. Sure, initially a company might get some workers that don’t last but eventually they have a full workforce of Americans that do last without much turnover because they have to offer better wages.
    It just makes me sick to see any Americans vouching for illegal aliens into our country and stealing American jobs and benefits. What happened to respect for our laws and our own citizens? When did “some” Americans decide that the almighty dollar was more important than morals, laws and the soveirgnty of our borders? If we need foreign workers they can come legally. No employer is actually going to stay mum if he truly needs legal immigrant workers. They, don’t! They just want cheap illegal labor and the apologists let them get away with it by vouching for this corrupted scheme.

  • Marisa Treviño
    November 11, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Cookie, Before you get all self-rightous do some research. It doesn’t matter which side of the immigration debate you fall on there will be a shortage of White workers in the near future. It’s an economic fact.

  • ReyFeo
    November 13, 2009 at 6:54 am

    So what’s your point Marisa…let all the illegals stay because we’re going to have shortages in “white workers”. I mean really?
    Are you kidding…you seriously advocate breaking the law for the sake of keeping illegal aliens here. I’m Hispanic with relatives in Mexico, but still prefer anyone who wants to come here, do IT LEGALLY.
    Also, devastation to this country is not going to come from the removal of a large labor force (like illegals), its going to come cap/trade and higher taxes this ridiculous administration is laying on the American people.

  • cookie
    November 17, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I haven’t seen any proof of a shortage of white workers in the future but even if that were so why woud we be replacing them today with millions of illegal workers? Shouldn’t we wait till that shortage occurs first? Why not replace them with white immigrant workers then so we can retain the demographics of our country? Or is that considered racist but not racist if we replace them with mostly Hispanic workers?

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