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  1. #1
    Senior Member americangirl's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Part I - San Diego Union-Tribune 2-part Pro-illegal Article

    Part I (this was a front-page story)

    Construction, services where most find jobs
    By Diane Lindquist
    September 4, 2006

    CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
    Jacobo, with his daughter, Natalie, is now a legal resident, a San Marcos homeowner and co-owner of a construction company.
    Ever since Rafael Sánchez breached the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana several years ago, he has toiled atop hundreds of old and new houses, installing roofs from Eastlake to Fallbrook and beyond.

    The Illegal Work Force

    Part 2: Undocumented workers carry big stick

    “I got legalized with the support of an employer,” the 22-year-old Mexico City transplant said. The same is not true for the crew of 200 Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Costa Ricans who are also employees at a big Southern California roofing company.

    “Almost all the people I work with are illegal,” Sánchez said.

    San Diego County's illegal work force is significant – possibly more than one-tenth of the total working population – and it fills jobs that have been vital to the region's growth over the past five years, according to a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C.

    “The thing that surprises most people is that so few are in agriculture. The stereotype is of migrants coming here to do ag work,” said Jeffrey Passell, a Pew researcher.

    According to Pew data compiled from U.S. Census Bureau household surveys of San Diego County, the portion of undocumented workers in farming occupations, which includes nursery operations but not landscaping, is less than 1 percent.
    Perhaps even more surprising is that 12 percent of illegal immigrants hold positions in management, business and professional occupations. Many of those are believed to have overstayed visitor, student or work visas, but others are impoverished border crossers from Latin America who have worked and saved enough to start businesses.

    The Pew center calculates there was an average population of 77,000 undocumented workers living in the county between 2003 and 2005. Passell said the current number may be as high as 100,000 to 150,000. That does not include about 2,300 homeless workers or the estimated 40,000 to 60,000 who commute from Tijuana with cards that allow them to cross the border but not for jobs.

    In all, San Diego County's illegal workers could number as many as 200,000 – more than one in 10 workers.

    Unauthorized workers are concentrated in service jobs and construction.

    “These areas are responsible for much of the region's job growth,” University of San Diego economist Alan Gin said. “As of March, half of the annual growth employment has been in those areas. And a significant portion of those hires are illegals.”

    The bulk of undocumented workers – 44 percent – are employed in the service industry, which includes hotel and restaurant work, landscaping, janitorial services, health care and other jobs that usually don't require licensing or certification. Only 15 percent of legal workers' occupations are in the service sector, where wages are generally lower.

    Of illegal immigrants old enough toto work, one in five is employed in construction – especially residential housing, where they fill nearly all the jobs in foundation work, framing and drywall installation.

    Washington's debate
    Congress is struggling to revise immigration law. A House bill focuses on border enforcement, while a Senate bill includes enforcement measures but also provides paths to legalization.

    CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
    Although day workers, including those who waited for potential employers along Encinitas Boulevard west of Interstate 5, draw keen attention, they make up a tiny portion of the illegal work force in San Diego County.

    Hearings in San Diego and elsewhere around the country this summer have underscored the disagreement between those who say the mostly low-paid workers are contributing to economic growth and those who say the workers and their families are a drag on public finances.

    The debate has focused on illegal immigrants instead of the companies that employ them, even though, under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, there are penalties for “knowingly hiring” illegal workers.

    Because of the attention being given to this issue, the scores of undocumented people interviewed for this article refused to comment for publication or asked that they not be identified to avoid detection by authorities.

    Most visible in this group are day laborers who congregate on busy street corners and in building-supply store parking lots waiting for potential employers.

    “It's both individuals and companies that hire us,” said Vicente Jiménez, 37, who stood on an Encinitas sidewalk with a group of Guatemalans eager to squeeze all at once into the vehicles of people seeking workers.

    Although they draw the greatest attention, day workers make up only a tiny portion of San Diego County's illegal work force. The majority of illegal workers find full-time jobs and sometimes more than one. Using fake documents, they receive regular paychecks from which Social Security and Medicare deductions are made.

    Despite the current ruckus, almost all said they are heartily welcomed by local employers.

    Juan, a 42-year-old Mexico City street vendor, said he came to San Diego six months ago to earn more money to support his wife and six children and immediately found a job at an upscale North County bakery.

    “I came and put in an application and they hired me,” he said.

    Worker becomes owner
    Some pundits, such as economist George Borjas of Harvard University, contend that the wave of mainly unskilled immigrants from Mexico and Latin America who have entered the United States since World War II is too uneducated and culturally alien to prosper or assimilate.
    But consider Jacobo, a 31-year-old San Marcos homeowner from Oaxaca. Seventeen years ago, he joined a brother already working in San Diego County, not to work but to study in the hope of becoming a doctor.

    Jacobo said he worked on weekends to pay school fees, but when he and his brother could no longer afford them, Jacobo dropped out and went to work for a company that harvested day lily bulbs for export to Asia. Within a year, his boss made him a supervisor.

    Later, he worked in construction, tile setting, landscaping and engraving. He was hired at the La Jolla Country Club, first as a busboy, then doing setups for banquets and then as a waiter.

    “The employers, they know if they don't hire undocumenteds, they'll have to pay more. And they don't want to do that,” he said.

    “I never feared being sent back,” Jacobo said. “Nobody ever hassled me. I always was good. I spoke English. I did everything they asked. . . . I knew people who were legal, and they were doing illegal things, like drugs or driving drunk.”

    Now Jacobo and his brother own a construction company. He's married and has two daughters, both U.S. citizens because they were born here. During his free time, Jacobo raises funds through corporate contributions to buy school supplies for those who can't afford them, for scholarships and to subsidize class trips.

    Eight years ago, Jacobo and his wife, who cleans houses, applied to become U.S. citizens. They are legal residents now.

    “It's going to be another year or two,” he said. “But we're happy because we're more than halfway there.”

    Still, he said, he hasn't turned his back on Mexico and his hometown of Santa Maria Ayosque in Oaxaca.

    “I think I'm going to go back when my daughters get to university or I retire,” Jacobo said. “I've built a very nice house there. I want to enjoy it.”

    The national picture
    Nationwide, the number of illegal immigrants has grown to nearly 12 million since the 1986 immigration law provided amnesty for an estimated 2.7 million people, most of them Mexican.
    The nonpartisan Pew center estimates that 7.2 million are employed in the civilian labor force, accounting for 5.4 percent of the total U.S. work force. Although the statistics are not broken down to indicate how many of the 12 million illegal immigrants are too young or too old to have a job, Pew estimates that almost all those who are adults and able to work are in the labor force.

    Excluding commuters from Tijuana, the percentage of undocumented workers in San Diego County is between 5 percent and 7 percent, Pew estimates. For California, the numbers are higher – between 8 percent and 12 percent – because of greater concentrations of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Central Valley.

    “San Diego is a very unusual kind of place,” said Philip Martin, a University of California Davis economist and an immigration expert. “The irony of the border has always been that the illegal percentage is lower.”

    However, unauthorized workers, wherever they are employed, are much more likely to be in occupations where the pay – and education requirements – are low.

    For consumers, there are economic benefits to low wages – chiefly through lower prices – but there also are costs. Low-wage jobs mean less money paid in taxes. And the influx of workers willing to work for low wages can depress salaries for native-born workers applying for the same jobs.

    Finding job paths
    The extent to which unauthorized workers are employed by all kinds of San Diego companies has been made clear under an Operation Safe Cities program conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It assesses work sites that could be a threat to national security because they are vulnerable to terrorists.
    Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the companies do “everything from building missiles to loading vending machines.” The companies primarily do business on military bases and at Lindbergh Field.

    Since December 2003, 882 businesses with 26,600 employees have been examined. Among them, authorities found 970 unauthorized workers.

    The Pew survey of illegal immigrant workers in San Diego County did not identify nationalities. But in the United States, two-thirds of all unauthorized residents are from Mexico or Latin America.

    Among the illegal immigrants in San Diego are Italian waiters in the Gaslamp, Brazilian car washers in Point Loma, Filipina health care workers in nursing homes and Eastern European lab technicians on Torrey Pines Mesa.

    Many of these are people who entered the country legally on visitor or student visas but remained here to work once the documents expired. Almost half of the nation's undocumented residents have overstayed their visas, Pew researcher Passell said.

    It's this group of unauthorized workers that might boost the percentage of illegal immigrants holding management, business and professional positions, he said.

    Still, those who breached the border from Mexico also hold such jobs or run their own businesses. Hispanic-owned businesses are the fastest growth category of business owners in the country, and presumably some of those operators are undocumented.

    Gustavo Piedra was trained as a silversmith when he came to San Diego from Guadalajara 13 years ago. He worked for a time for a jeweler in Escondido, then a friend connected him with a position in Elkin, N.C.

    “I drove all the way to North Carolina afraid I was going to get pulled over at a checkpoint or something,” Piedra said. “Once I got there, it was better because when I asked about the Border Patrol, my boss didn't know what it was.”

    That employer, besides taking Elkin residents to task for refusing service to Piedra, sponsored him for citizenship. It took seven years. After gaining citizenship, Piedra returned and works in a La Jolla jewelry store. While continuing in his current job, he plans to open his own silversmith business soon.

    “It's been tough, being illegal, living alone. Nobody knows who you are,” Piedra said. “But the government is asking for things that I think are good. People need to pay taxes, learn English. It's for your own good. If you live here, you need to know and obey the laws.”

    Staff writer Dean Calbreath contributed to this report.
    Calderon was absolutely right when he said...."Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico".

  2. #2
    Senior Member reptile09's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    El Cajon, Mexifornia
    “The thing that surprises most people is that so few are in agriculture. The stereotype is of migrants coming here to do ag work,” said Jeffrey Passell, a Pew researcher
    Oh, so they admit that illegals DO NOT only come her to pick tomatos and do the work all us lazy 'gringos' refuse to do. They are doing construction, cooking, hotel work, trash pickup, you name it, wherever an employer wants to lower wages, meaning everywhere, you will find illegals working.

    And along with that comes - gee, what a surprise - crime, including rampant car theft, DUI and Hit & Run accidents, gang crime, drug dealing, graffiti, overcrowded housing, overcrowded schools, packed ER's, all those wonderful things that make a community so enriched and livable, if you're used to living in the third world that is.
    [b][i][size=117]"Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die. Through love of having children, we are going to take over.â€

  3. #3
    Senior Member americangirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    “It's been tough, being illegal, living alone. Nobody knows who you are,” Piedra said. “But the government is asking for things that I think are good. People need to pay taxes, learn English. It's for your own good. If you live here, you need to know and obey the laws.”
    Well, that's real nice, Piedra. But isn't the very fact that you're here illegally a blatant disobedience of our laws???
    Calderon was absolutely right when he said...."Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico".

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