36. Discrimination on Illegal Mexican Immigrants in the Workplace

Author: Anthony Velasquez, First Year

            In the world there are many problems that deserve attention but one that stands out is discrimination. Discrimination comes in many shapes and sizes and can affect all citizens at one time or another. The people that I am going to talk about who get discriminated against physically and mentally are those that come from Mexico to the U.S. The Mexicans who travel over the border illegally come here to try and support their families for a better life. The problem is these people get treated very poorly by having to work from sunrise to sunset for very little pay/income. They also cannot speak out when their bosses are abusing them because they do not have protection under the law. This paper will demonstrate treatment in the work place. The solution would be to support illegal Mexican immigrants and to help them get a path to citizenship. The average American can help by supporting the Power Act bill, which would help the illegal immigrants stay and work here while having rights. The way we support them is to advocate to our representatives that we need to fight for these people and have them vote for this bill.
            Mexican Immigration has occurred for many years because of how the United States of America is connected to Mexico. The biggest increase started in 1980 and was not just from one region in Mexico. These immigrants are coming over for the American Dream because it is so close to them and it’s their best opportunity for a better life. Most of the illegal immigrants that come to America come from very poor cities looking for employment that would pay a lot better. In Mexico the average salary per hour is $4.15, which is very hard for one person to survive on, let alone a family (Illegal Immigration). The U.S Immigration Support states “Currently about 40% of the Mexican population is below the poverty line. Unemployment is about 4% but it is estimated that nearly 25% of those working are classified as underemployed” (Illegal Immigration). The poverty line is different in any country. That is why these numbers seem pretty low but when you compare it to the United States the salaries do not equate. Comparing these to countries will show how different they are. The GDP for Mexico is $15,600 for the U.S. it is $50,700 (Leonard). For employees working for long hours the U.S. rate is 11.13% and for Mexico it is 28.63% (Leonard). The average age in Mexico is 27 years old at this age they just start having a family and realize at this point they need a better life. In the U.S. it is 37 years old, which means people, are staying here because it is so stable (Leonard). The last fact I want to compare is the population below the poverty line. In the U.S. it is 15.1% for Mexico it is 51.3%, which is more than half of the nation living in poverty (Leonard). Mexican parents know it is basically impossible to support a family on this salary. They need a better life for them and their family so the best option is to come to America where the conditions are a lot better. Minimum wage in America is $7.25 an hour and fluctuates to every state you go to. When one of the parents, usually the father, comes to America he will send money back to Mexico for the family he left behind. When this happens he will try to get his family here or get his green card for him and the family. The other option is to save up enough money to go back to Mexico and buy a house or a business to have a more stable life (Illegal Immigration). This is possible on the American minimum wage because it is quite a lot compared to Mexico’s. When they go back they will have a lot more money than they would have staying and working in Mexico.
The plan above sounds great but it is not as easy as it seems for many reasons. The conditions, bosses, and trying to stay hidden can make life extremely difficult for the illegal immigrants. For starters, the background in discrimination on illegal immigrants is essential to know before thinking in a certain way. The working conditions are so terrifying; it is unbelievable anyone would want to work in these conditions. One immigrant recalls how he was treated while working “We were made to work with bare hands, picking up dead animals," he says. "We were working in contaminated water, tearing down and repairing washed-out homes” (Meyerson). This man and his other counterparts were not given suits or any protective gear against the toxic water they were going up against. While the construction workers of the company were given these essential tools needed for the job (Meyerson). When Diaz spoke up to his boss he and the other workers were told their pay would be cut in half. As a result of going on strike, some workers were arrested, some deported, and one even lost his life (Meyerson). The paychecks are very tiny and the living conditions are unbearable. The illegal immigrants get abused and cannot defend themselves. They put in very hard grueling work and still can get paid nothing at all because if they speak out they will be sent back.
Bosses can make the immigrants’ life very tough and unfair because the immigrants cannot speak up for themselves. This can affect any type of immigrant but gender can play a particular role in this discrimination case. These women said they were scared to say anything because they did not want to lose their job when there are other illegal immigrants waiting in line to be able to work. They felt they had to work so fast in fear they would be replaced and would have to find somewhere else to work (CNN). Most of the women said they did not just get a green card because they do not fit the criteria and would get overlooked (CNN). They came here because they had to take the chance to support their families (CNN). CNN interviewed 150 illegal immigrants and wrote: “Regardless of what sector of the food industry these women worked in, they all reported feeling like they were seen by their employers as disposable workers with no lasting value, to be squeezed of every last drop of sweat and labor before being cast aside” (CNN). One of the illegal women immigrants was told from her boss she would be paid .45 cents for every 32-pound bucket of potatoes she filled. This lady was reported saying also on CNN “You have to run to do 150 [buckets] to make your money for the day” (CNN). That is an insane amount considering she would only get $5.62 per hour. This does not make sense because the average minimum wage is $7.25 and they are getting cheated out of a little less than $2. This would also happen where they would not receive their pay for more than two weeks. Another woman reported that her boss would not let her use the restroom, which is a right that everyone is entitled to (CNN). These workers have terrible working conditions because of the rules and whom they work for.
            The illegal immigrants come here for a better life and they are willing to do the harshest jobs just for a better opportunity. Even when they are sent back to Mexico they need to come back to the U.S. because this is their only option for a worthy stable life. This quote shows how many people from Mexico want to leave “President Obama has already deported around 1.1 million immigrants — more than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower — and officials say the numbers will not decline” (Cave). President Obama has deported so many illegal Mexicans that are trying desperately to come to the United States. Deportation is not cheap it cost per person $12,500 to send one of these illegal immigrants back (Cave). In President Obama’s term he has spent over $13.75 billion on containing illegal immigrants. This is a whole lot of money that can be used in many different ways that can help solve the problem. Like the quote said above these numbers will not decline and we will be spending a whole lot of money to contain the immigration problem.
            The problem has been demonstrated on how illegal immigrants are getting treated in the work place. Now I am going to focus on the solution and how we can help these illegal immigrants. A lot of people say they are taking jobs from us but the jobs they do are the ones no one wants to do. If the illegal immigrants do not do these jobs this will hurt many businesses. It will also affect the production in America because there will be less workers and it will be a lot harder to find replacements. We need these people but we need to come up with a plan that will help the United States and also protect the illegal workers.
            One solution that has been suggested and also is in the process to be passed is called the Power Act. This act will have a very big impact on illegal immigrants if it is passed. It will help better navigate a road to U.S citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants (Health Care). This bill would help the workplace because it says it would create strict enforcement on bosses (Health Care). This bill would do that because these workers will be documented and it would make it easier to identify which workers have this RPI status. RPI stands for Registered Provisional Immigrant. Watch dogs can easily find where they work and would make sure they are being treated fairly. They would have to meet certain criteria and this would help solve most of the problem because now workers will be given better working environments and also they cannot be cheated their salary as easy as it was. This bill would cost $46 billion but this number is not as big as it looks. It does not look that big when you compare in that 2012 alone it cost $18 billion to enforce federal immigration laws (Health Care). Before the illegal immigrants get their green cards they would be given RPI status. This status would be one of the stepping-stones before getting their green cards and would be allowed to work without fear (Health Care). The other problem is most people want to focus on other issues but this one deserves attention because it is a big factor in America. The way an everyday American can help is to support the Power Act, a very easy way we can help illegal immigrants and also our country.
            There are a lot of problems in the world that deserve attention but this one affects us directly. We need to change and help others live the dream that we were blessed with. We were given a great opportunity by being born here but we need to help others that believe in the same things we do but were not given the same chance we are. We need to change the way the illegal immigrants are getting treated and also their working conditions. It starts with us we can make a difference and change for the better and help other people out and in the end aiding our country because of production. We need to get this issue solved and by supporting the Power Act it will help and will be a great starting point to fix this problem. The Power Act will fix the gap of the two dollars per hour being lost in their salary. It will also make working conditions safer and their bosses will have to protect them and therefore cannot abuse them. At the end of the day we can change as people and help out others who were not as lucky as us. We are all trying to support our family; why should we be able to deny these people deserving a job when most of America does not want to do it? Change does not happen overnight but by supporting the Power Act bill it is one step closer to help the 11 million illegal immigrants who are in our country and want to be one of us. Are you going to help your brothers and sisters out?

Work Cited

Cave, Damien. "Crossing Over, and Over." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/world/americas/mexican-immigrants-repeatedly-brave-risks-to-resume-lives-in-united-states.html?_r=1&>.
"Health Care & Public Benefits." Summary & Analysis: The Senate Bill (S. 744). N.p., 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nilc.org/s744summary1.html>.
"Illegal Immigration from Mexico." Illegal Immigration from Mexico. U.S Immigration Support, 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.< http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/illegal-immigration-from-mexico.html>.
Leonard, Scott. "Compare United States vs Mexico." United States vs Mexico in World Country Facts. Find The Best, 2 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2013. <http://country-facts.findthedata.org/compare/1-2/United-States-vs-Mexico>.
Meyerson, Harold. "Protecting Undocumented Workers." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 24 June 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.< http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/24/opinion/la-oe-meyerson-undocumented-abuses-20110624>.
Staff, The CNN Wire. "Illegal Immigrant WomenFace Risks, Study Says." CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.< http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/11/16/splc.women.immigrants/>.

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