Does Money Spent on Services for Illegal Immigrants Harm American Labor?

This is an age old debate, whether or not illegal aliens taking American jobs harms American labor.  It’s a debate that won’t quit.

It’s painfully obvious by now to all and sundry that the President did not live up to his election promise of implementing immigration reform. While he is still trying to push the concept for a possible second term crack at it, Hispanic voters don’t hold out a great deal of hope on the subject. Additionally, those faced with a choice at the ballot box, may be hard pressed to get what they really want in office. It may boil down to a pick between the lesser of two evils.

Obama needs the Latin vote. It is just as simple as that. Will he get it? Hard to say, but in chasing that vote, he is also ignoring roughly 70 percent of Americans who are okay with legal immigrants, but are against amnesty and the right to become a citizen for those breaking immigration laws.  There are approximately 11 million to 36 million illegal aliens in the U.S., depending on whose statistics you read.

The sevent percent who don’t like the idea of undocumented aliens getting a free ticket to ride, insist that illegal immigrants skew the high unemployment/underemployment across the national landscape. We read in the paper, on almost a daily basis that skilled and unskilled workers, and recent college grads are going begging for work, because they feel their goals are being shuffled off to Buffalo, thanks to the high cost of government services for illegal immigrants. Their argument is that the money going to service illegals is harming the U.S. economy and robbing them of jobs.

It’s a no brainer that with at least 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, they would have an effect on the job market. In stepping back and taking a look at the complete picture though, it is evident that the real issue here is not whether Hispanic labor shuts out American workers, and it is not a question of head counting illegals either, or whether or not government services pay out funding to service them.

The real question is if Hispanics did not do the seasonal farm labor, picking, packaging and so on, who would? Some say Americans would do those jobs. The fact is Americans won’t do those jobs. If they would, they would not be available to immigrant laborers. Many employers, desperately need to hire enough workers to get their crops done for the season, despair at finding enough reliable labor in the U.S.  If they show up for work, they just don’t stay around for more than a few days. It seems the working conditions and pay is not up to their expectations.

What we have here is a group of people who are doing jobs that no one else wants to do, and in the process, since they are in the U.S. to do that job, they require various services. The money spent on them makes sense, since they are working here, and pay taxes here as well. But for the fact that Americans don’t want to work in the fields, immigrants fill those positions and make a significant contribution to putting food on American tables that wouldn’t get there otherwise.

And yet, we begrudge them services they work for. Maybe it’s time for out of work Americans who say they need jobs, to reconsider what they are willing to do to be a part of the labor force and stop complaining when someone else does the jobs they refuse to do.

Sally Odell — Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit