Hoping for middle ground with regards to immigration issue

What would happen if all the undocumented immigrants went away? Both sides of the issue.

What if the Trump administration were able to deport all the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in this country? What would be the effects?

According to a Dec. 16, 2018, Seattle Times article by Miriam Jordan entitled, “Economic Force: 8 Million People Are Working Illegally in the U.S. Here’s Why That’s unlikely to Change,” the effects would be draconian. The U.S. economy has grown to rely on them.

Tightened border security and a strong economy which has driven down unemployment to 3.7 percent nationwide mean that finding legal workers for low-paying jobs is getting harder and harder.

President Donald Trump wants border security and, by the time you read this, the federal government might be partially shut down over the president’s demand for $5 billion for his border wall. He is caught in the goal of tightening border security and, at the same time, wanting a booming economy.

Increased arrests of illegal immigrants, payroll audits and workplace raids have resulted in detentions, trials and deportations of thousands of illegal workers. Ironically, though, four undocumented workers have come forward claiming they have been working at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. After examining the federal E-Verify database, it is unlikely the Trump organization has been as scrupulous in checking on the legality of its own employees, not just in New Jersey, but in all its businesses nationwide.

These illegal workers got jobs using counterfeit Social Security numbers and green cards. If they are fired and arrested, Trump’s businesses may have trouble finding legal replacements.

It’s estimated that 5 percent of all U.S. workers are illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center. Most of them are found in low-skilled jobs in farming, construction and child care.

Jordan asks the question, “What would happen if all the undocumented immigrants went away?”

One answer comes from the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports curbing immigration. He believes that wages would rise, motivating many chronically unemployed Americans to go back to work.

In response to this assertion, some economists have stated that wages are not the issue. Not enough American citizens are willing to do these blue-collar jobs, especially the back-breaking stoop labor work harvesting crops. As one labor economist at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, noted, “Not everybody will do dirty work.”

According to Jordan’s research, 70 percent of construction companies were having trouble hiring roofers, bricklayers and electricians. Accommodation and food service sectors have high job vacancies. Historically, most of these positions have been filled by those crossing the southern border. That avenue of labor is being squeezed shut.

That means workers in “construction, agriculture, housing and personal services would be drastically reduced…. There would be companies closing and relocating. There would be jobs lost. There will be towns and cities that would see half their population disappear. It definitely would trigger a recession.”

Over time, it’s likely that automation would have to come in to make up for these lost jobs, but the transition would be painful and expensive, especially in agriculture.

The Pew Research Center estimates that 10.6 percent of Nevada’s labor force, 8.6 percent in California and 8.2 percent in Texas are unauthorized. In Washington state approximately 4.7 percent of the workers are undocumented.

Twenty-four percent of farming, fishing and forestry are done by illegals. Fifteen percent of construction workers, or 1.35 million, are where most of the undocumented workers congregate. Nearly 25 percent of restaurant workers are foreign-born, many likely being illegals. Many of these workers are highly skilled and have lived and worked in the U.S. for a long time.

Jordan ends her article with a quote: “Each job they (undocumented workers) perform sustains two to three jobs in the surrounding economy.”

Those who oppose and resent illegal immigrant workers in this country may need to reconsider: “Be careful what you wish for, you may not like the consequences of President Trump’s tightening immigrant restrictions.”

It may be time to consider the costs and benefits of illegal laborers in this country and to tread more thoughtfully and carefully. There is middle ground on this issue if only our government leaders have the wisdom to search for and implement it.

More in Opinion

Letters to the editor for the week of Nov. 15

Reader’s child enjoys stories about community Dear editor, I just read “It’s… Continue reading

Why we need media literacy classes now, more than ever

Education on how to find authentic, factual information in today’s digital landscape is a must for future generations

Container math: Divide your roots to multiply your plants

By the month of November gardeners and gardening goals have moved indoors.… Continue reading

George Will and ‘conservative sensibilities’

The journalist is a Constitutional Originalist, but the framers’ sole focus wasn’t solely freedom.

No cost to vote, but million spent to influence it

Check out the numbers behind the November 2019 general election.

Letters to the editor for the week of Oct. 18

Reader credits Pavone for giving them a voice Dear editor, What do… Continue reading

Reject dishonest vehicle taxes, vote yes on I-976

Taxpayers are getting ripped off, everybody knows it and politicians refuse to… Continue reading

Mum’s the word: incorporate this plant into your season displays

If your landscape is not a blaze of autumn glory this week,… Continue reading

Lawmakers to governor: How dare you mess with our budget!

They want Jay Inslee to halt his planned $175 million reallocation of state transportation dollars.

Letters to the editor

Renton Councilmember, Mayor Law support Armondo Pavone Dear editor, For over 20… Continue reading

Making sense out of the census

2020 Census Renton needs your participation

Letters for the week of Oct. 4

Reader loves our coverage Dear editor, Thanks to you all for keeping… Continue reading