How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy
Report; Posted on: 2006-07-21 16:28:35
A handful of industries get low-cost labor
The day after Librado Velasquez arrived on Staten Island after a long, surreptitious journey from his Chiapas, Mexico, home, he headed out to a street corner to wait with other illegal immigrants looking for work. Velasquez, who had supported his wife, seven kids, and his in-laws as a campesino, or peasant farmer, until a 1998 hurricane devastated his farm, eventually got work, off the books, loading trucks at a small New Jersey factory, which hired illegals for jobs that required few special skills. The arrangement suited both, until a work injury sent Velasquez to the local emergency room, where federal law required that he be treated, though he could not afford to pay for his care. After five operations, he is now permanently disabled and has remained in the United States to pursue compensation claims.
“I do not have the use of my leg without walking with a cane, and I do not have strength in my arm in order to lift things,” Velasquez said through an interpreter at New York City Council hearings. “I have no other way to live except if I receive some other type of compensation. I need help, and I thought maybe my son could come and work here and support me here in the United States.”
Velasquez’s story illustrates some of the fault lines in the nation’s current, highly charged, debate on immigration. Since the mid-1960s, America has welcomed nearly 30 million legal immigrants and received perhaps another 15 million illegals, numbers unprecedented in our history. These immigrants have picked our fruit, cleaned our homes, cut our grass, worked in our factories, and washed our cars. But they have also crowded into our hospital emergency rooms, schools, and government-subsidized aid programs, sparking a fierce debate about their contributions to our society and the costs they impose on it.
( http://www.nationalvanguard.org/story.php?id=9624 )
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