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In the United States, there are approximately 12 million immigrants. Most of the illegal immigrants usually engage in labor force mainly in construction, domestic service, restaurant, and janitorial organizations. The federal and employment laws protect these immigrants. The federal government requires that all employers should pay employees overtime and minimum wages. The current minimum wage that an employer should be paid per hour is $7.25 (“Are Illegal Immigrants Protected by Labor and Employment Laws,” 2013). However, the employees who receive tips in their jobs are paid minimum wages of $5 in one hour. Although the immigrants are entitled to get the same wages as legal citizens, most companies use them by paying them lowly for their benefits.
Corporations in America abuse labor laws and immigration policies to their advantage
Immigration is not suitable for any country in various ways including the impact it has on the wages of most employees. Competing with the less-skilled immigrants is challenging for the low earning native-born American. The unauthorized immigrants do contribute to the American economy through essential industries, and they pay high taxes (Levin, 2017). The workforce has 5% of illegal immigrants. In most cases, these employees are afraid to complain about the substandard working conditions and unpaid wages since the employers can take actions that may result in their deportation. The issue gives employers powers of underpaying and exploiting them. When the payments of immigrants are suppressed, the wages of other workers in the U.S who are competing for similar jobs are also affected.
Employers exploit the immigrants for their privileges. It is not a deliberate choice for immigrants to be legal. Most of the illegal immigrants came to the U.S for various reasons including potential job opportunities, war, political instability in the home country, and escape from natural calamities like hurricanes. Employers are the ones who benefit from the undocumented immigrants. The employer benefits since the migrants are desperate for work, thus, can accept low wages. Hiring illegal immigrant also gives a company the chance of paying less regarding non-wage costs and welfare contributions (“Are Illegal Immigrants Protected by Labor and Employment Laws,” 2013). The aim of most undocumented immigrants is getting a job.
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Cases of abuse of labor and immigration policies by American Companies
Various cases confirm the exploitation of immigrants for profit purposes. For instance, the case of Jose Ucelo Gonzalez who was an employee at Garden Grove. He did tiling in a parking space, but when he requested for his wages, the local contractor called the police and falsely accused him of theft (Hyunhye, 2013). Even though the charges against him were dropped, Gonzalez was taken to the immigration office because he was an illegal immigrant. Hector Nolasco who was Winnetka, Calif’s day laborer passed through a similar situation. Although these events are rare, employers should ensure that they follow the law when dealing with immigrants. They should not file untruthful charges against them or even call the migration officers to arrest the employees who just requested for their wages.
Companies frequently use the dysfunctional immigration system with the aim of intimidating both undocumented and documented workers when they fight for better pay and working conditions. For instance, Mi Pueblo Supermarket situated at the Bay Area said that it could employ the E-Verify system in screening the migration status of the workers when they wanted to introduce a union in the firm (Hyunhye, 2013). Furthermore, Pomona College also said it would verify the immigration status of workers when they wanted to join a union although they had worked there for decades. Although most people argue that illegal employees do not require work and labor rights, the labor laws apply and protects the rights of every employee.
U.S industries and immigrant employees
The Study Conducted by Pew Research Center shows that the undocumented immigrants hold 11% of the jobs in restaurants. Entry to the position is usually simple. Furthermore, in this industry, the immigrants are the lowly paid individuals even though they offer the best services. They pay the immigrants lowly because they cannot make complaints at the Department of Labor.
Poultry and industry
The employees in poultry and meat industry in U.S. A do endure the hazardous working conditions. The companies which employ the migrants do use illegal tactics in ensuring that the unions they form a crush (“Abuses Against Workers Taint U.S. Meat and Poultry,”2005). The employees working in this sector may face a danger of losing their lives or limbs because of the unsafe working conditions. The employees are also denied compensation when they get injured while working. The employers use
Most of the workers in the agriculture sector especially in the firms are immigrants. Additionally, 70% of them are illegal immigrants as Americans do not want those kinds of jobs. The figure of farm workers working in the united states differ. However, approximately 2 million individuals engage in these jobs. The work they do is hard, and they are given low wages.
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The clothing industry mainly employs immigrants since they are the ones who can work for low wages. There is high competition in the clothing industry meaning that when a company gets low wages, it can make high profits as compared to the competitors. Additionally, immigrants especially the ones without documents can work over time, and this strategy helps the clothing companies increase their productivity (Harris, 2013). However, the immigrants may face deportation when they commence complaining about the working conditions.
Distribution of occupations in the U.S
Source: U.S Bureau of Statistics
The above figure shows how the foreign born and native born are employed in the different industries. Most of the immigrants are mainly employed in business, management, professional, sales, and service occupations. Most immigrants work in the low paying sectors as some are unskilled whole others are illegally in the country.
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The undocumented workers do not want to cooperate with the Department of Labor in doing investigations as they fear deportations. In some cases, the workers decline to accept the wages they are owed, and they run from the individuals who show up at their places of work. The policies set by Trump have made the exploited undocumented workers to panic. Inadequate cooperation with the immigrant employees disrupts a primary function in the labor department. Since Trump took power, there have not been cases of workers exploitation by employers due to fear. The labor department has also failed to enforce labor policies in the organizations that violate the policies because the employees are not willing to freely speak.
Some employers in the United States are eager to take immigrants especially the undocumented ones and exploit them as they may be willing to take low pay and work for long hours. If the immigrants do not complain, then the issues of immigration papers are avoided. However, if they complain about the working conditions, the employers usually resolve to call the ICE or police, and this may lead to their deportation (Harris, 2013). Furthermore, the migrants who are in the lowly paid in the US economy complain that they are targeted for standing for workers’ rights.
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Companies employ illegal immigrants for them to benefit by selling their products at a lower price than the competitors. The trends in immigration require individuals to examine and intensify interaction between workplace law and migration. Every year millions of aliens’ labor in different workplaces although they do not have authorization from the immigration authorities in the United States. However, the illegal immigrants’ can be prosecuted, deported, and documented by the immigration authorities even if the employment laws protect them. Employers should desist from employing undocumented immigrants. However, they should pay them all their wages if they hire them.
In summary, both the legal and illegal migrants are protected by the local, federal, and state labor law. Therefore, they should be paid their wages in full including overtime. They are also eligible to work in a place that does not discriminate its employees. Most immigrants work in the sectors that pay low wages. They work in industries like construction, clothing, agriculture, and restaurant. Employers exploit the immigrants by giving them low wages and making them work for long hours. However, they are reported to the immigration offices when they form unions or complain of the working conditions. Although the illegal immigrants get protection from the labor laws, employers should report them to the immigration offices if they encounter them to avoid illegal immigration in the country.
- Abuses Against Workers Taint U.S. Meat and Poultry. (2005). Human Rights Watch.
- Are Illegal Immigrants Protected By Labor And Employment Laws? | The Warshawsky Law Firm Blog. (2013). warshawskylawfirm.com.
- Harris, P. (2013). Undocumented workers’ grim reality: speak out on abuse and risk deportation. the Guardian.
- Hyunhye, E. (2013). Exploiting immigrants: Labor laws need to protect undocumented workers, too – The Mercury News. Mercurynews.com.
- Levin, S. (2017). Immigration crackdown enables worker exploitation, labor department staff say. the Guardian.