Hi-ho, hi-ho: Would Snow White’s helpers all be immigrants today?

Most of us know work is good — although for some it is better than others. A scripture often overlooked is Psalm 128:2: “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

My first job in New York was full of glamour, friendship and fun. I worked for one of the largest beauty companies – Clairol. I remember the model shoots, the travel, the trade shows, and the funny an interesting people. Even though I worked primarily in the finance/IT area, the feel was decidedly exciting. I was just out of school when Gretchen Carlson (of Fox) won the Miss America title and she would come to have her hair done for an interview or other appearance. My office at 345 Park Avenue was a fun place to be.

I lived in a studio apartment — 450 square feet and paid almost ALL of my paycheck to live there. My grandma thought I was the most attentive granddaughter in the whole world because I dropped over often just in time for breakfast and dinner. I had no money left over after paying for my living and commuting expenses. So I got a side job. I was an “apartment finder” — basically I matched people with available apartments.

I worked through an office at the local real estate office and began to make a good deal of money, with a great deal of effort matching the landlord’s desires with the renter’s desires for a pretty good percentage of the year’s total rent. At times it proved to be as difficult as marriage matchmaking. But it was WORK because sometimes I had to clean and “beautify” the residence in order to make it palatable — and I did. I remember the owner of the agency told me “you work like Chinese” – yes, yes, I know that’s no longer politically correct.

But what exactly did that mean, “work like Chinese?” Basically she was saying I didn’t work like the average American 22-year-old she came into contact with. I explained to her that my Jamaican aunts would work two jobs with three-day, 12-hour shifts. In other words, three-day, 12-hour shifts at one hospital and three-day, 12-hour shifts at another hospital for a total of 72 hours of work per week. Their husbands worked as electricians, mechanics and security guards — sometimes in multiple jobs. Yes, there’s an old joke — one Jamaican dies and 30 jobs open up — remember the satire of the Jamaican family on the show “In Living Color”? Once upon a time it was just a little exaggeration of the truth.

Immigrants enter this country for a number of reasons. Perhaps they will escape persecution or degradation in their own country. Maybe they are looking for better opportunities, maybe they are escaping something, anything.

But this immigrant, looking around at the lack of restrictions on the height that a man or woman may reach will work hard because of the “fresh possibilities.”

I know of a Haitian woman who volunteered for the night shifts and working in the freezers of a food production company because each of those designations added 10 percent more pay per hour to her paycheck. Her son became an accountant and her daughter is a nurse practitioner. Through this immigrant mother’s toil, she lifted her family into the a higher income level

So are there jobs Americans won’t do? Are there jobs left on the table because they cut into the fun, require that you do dirty things (I mean real dirt, not lasciviousness) such as cleaning manure, digging ditches, tending farm animals? Well, yes, I believe so.

Right now I’m watching workers install a fancy roof on the house next door. These workers will be out there all day for as long as it takes. They’ll work fast because we get lots of rain in the afternoon and it’s already 93 degrees. They take lunch in shifts, no breaks, balance themselves 30 feet or so off of the ground, and will do an excellent job. All of them are from where? You guessed it, south of the border.

Before I leave for work, I will drink a glass of milk. My milk probably came from a dairy cow in the Northeast, or maybe right here in Florida. As the Wall Street Journal wrote about the dearth of American workers in the dairy industry, “a Mexican worker who can’t read or write, sometimes mixes up the numbers that identify the cows that he milks. But he can easily tell one brawny black-and-white Holstein from another, and discern when they are sick, in heat or just plain moody.”

“Farmer Ray Souza credits immigrants like Jesus Rodriguez, an employee for nearly 20 years, for saving the U.S. dairy industry. “I haven’t had a non-Hispanic want to do this work in 10 years,” says Mr. Souza, a descendant of Portuguese immigrants, a group that helped turn California into the nation’s largest dairy state.”

Working in a dairy farm, milking and cleaning guarantees you’ll be wet, kicked by a cow once or twice, cold or hot depending upon the season, pooped on and you’ll stink by day’s end. But it also means that you, your children, and children many states away will get a nice cold healthy glass of milk.

So, are there jobs Americans won’t do? Sadly, yes. But when I watch the news commentators exploiting the plight of “Maria” or “Pedro” (yes, they use those stereotypical names when they outline their fictional stories) for their own political desires, this question is not answered. One thing for sure, flooding the borders and overwhelming the system will not work. It’s a strategy that will allow criminals to prosper at the expense of those who truly are the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Anarchy and chaos will only guarantee that the conditions they try to escape will meet them once again in the future. This time, in their new home — the USA. We must work hard to ensure that is not the case. Unfortunately, some desire the anarchy and chaos for political reasons, and see it as a selfish opportunity, not the opportunity for success.

13 COMMENTS

  1. this is kinda a trick question. For most of the work that immigrints do (picking fruit, working in sweat shops, etc.. ) NO!!! But, working in a DIAMOND mine like the 7 drawfs?? HELL YES, I would do it!!!

  2. I have to disagree. Those are jobs that I’ve done (and despite my avatar, I’m a white male American).

    The fact that you see immigrants (including many illegals) doing these jobs, doesn’t mean Americans wouldn’t do them if given the chance. There are plenty of people out there who would.

    • It’s not that Americans won’t do the jobs. It is Americans know that they will get passed up for cheaper laborers. Companies know they can pay a cheaper wage and get away with it. All the company has to do is turn them into La Migra! English, Immigration.

      • You’ve got that right! Whenever I’d apply for work at temporary agencies, the Spanish-speaking applicants would get hired. We natives were left hanging. Although I’m skilled in photography and sewing, it’s not beneath me working as a dishwasher until jobs in one of those fields comes along. It’s beneath me if I didn’t.

  3. How much does Mr. Souza pay Jesus Rodriguez? Does he pay him the whopping $10 min. wage the left was screaming for & Obama implemented? I’m certain Mr. Souza benefits from the guest-worker program & as you noted Mr. West in your article ‘4 myths about immigration reform destroyed by new labor study’ The Summer Work Travel Program (part of the J-1 visa program) allows employers to hire temporary workers without having to make the Social Security and Medicare payments that employers would be required to make on behalf of native-born workers. Another example of the way the immigration system makes foreign workers more attractive to employers is that those who enter under the H1-B visa program cannot change companies easily, making them more captive to their employers. Immigrants may also be more willing to work off the books, for lower pay, or endure worse working conditions than natives, causing employers to prefer them as workers.

    • Hate to tell the truth. Either way most of the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS take from our economical system than they contribute. Most of them are sending money back home, working under the table a lot of the time as well. But where I live in a small logging town, they are having on average 3-5 children. This is a burden on social services in our area! ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS know to come to this area because of the cheap labor, and for the social services that will be payed out. All this information from a Dr. that actually donates his vacations for caring for people in Mexico. He came across a pamphlet that tells ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS where to go in the states to take advantage of the social services!

  4. Great article. I do remember the Jamacian skit on In living color! I have 15 jobs man! Oh yeah, so many jobs man, I am the judge, the jury, and the bailiff! Good times!

    • That I agree it is a great article. Mrs. West should write more often. It’s the most serious take I’ve seen on this website on that border crisis. As an Haitian immigrant’s kid myself, I can tell she talks from the heart and identifies with the immigrant experience.

  5. great, all of a sudden, all the illegals coming over are criminals.
    We need to demand these Central Amer countries to take control of their crime and violence. Stop sending money there bec it goes towards corruption. Demand Mexico pay for illegals who overcrowd of prisons and schools. Fly all pregnant women back.

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