On Monday I caught a report on Lou Dobbs’ show that at first intrigued me :
DOBBS: As we’ve reported, Home Depot is facing rising anger over company policies that appear, to some, to condone massive illegal immigration into this country. Critics blast Home Depot for its ties with groups that support open borders and drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens, and Home Depot’s sponsorship of day laborer sites. This weekend some critics held a protest at a Home Depot in southern California.
Needless to say, I should have known better than to think a story that involves illegal immigration would intelligently discuss the problem without degenerating into angry, semi-racist ranting :
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal alien alert! Illegal alien alert!
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several dozen protesters gathered outside the Home Depot in Rancho Cucamonga, California, this weekend. They’re angry about the hardware chain’s ties to illegal aliens and tried to persuade customers to shop elsewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, hey, ho, ho, do your shopping down at Lowe’s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, ho, ho, do your shopping down at Lowe’s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, hey, ho, ho, do your shopping down at Lowe’s.1
WIAN: Last month Hope Depot announced a Spanish hiring initiative that will rely on groups such as the National Council of La Raza, which advocates drivers’ licenses, amnesty and discounted college tuition for illegal aliens.
BARBARA COE, PROTESTER: Home Depot has aided and abetted illegal aliens for quite some time. And we are hoping that by educating them, that they will no longer come here, that they will no longer support a company who betrays Americans.
WIAN: Home Depot also has paid for day laborer facilities at or near some of its stores.
JOSEPH TURNER, SOS.ORG: Studies have shown that day laborers are overwhelmingly illegal, and so we’re out here to basically stand up against that. We’re tired of this nonsense.
Blah, blah, blah….it’s the same “brown people are taking our jobs” crap that you’ve heard a million times. What I find so frustrating is that illegally employing “undocumented workers” is a serious problem that deserves to be addressed in a more sane manner than this. Since I’ve already said most of what I’ve got to say on this subject last year, I’m gonna be lazy and quote my response to the President’s
pander to Latino voters immigration plan :
What I’m afraid of is that this is a sneaky attempt to legalize a whole segment of the labor market that should be illegal. When conservatives harp about illegal workers, they always act is if it’s the workers who are the bad guys here, when the real bad guys are employers who have been working around the system of worker protections that have been getting put in place for the last hundred years. These workers are making below minimum wage, aren’t getting benefits or overtime pay, work in hazardous environments, aren’t allowed to form a union, etc. Is this what Bush wants to legalize?
Y’see it’s a simple supply/demand thing here. The only reason there are so many illegal workers over here is because there’s a tremendous demand for their services. Bush said as much when he announced the policy :
Allowing undocumented workers, who make up an unknown percentage of the approximately 8 million illegal immigrants now in the United States, to work legally here would benefit all Americans, Bush argued. He said it would make the nation’s borders more secure by allowing officials to focus more on the real threats to the country and would meet U.S. employers’ dire need for workers willing to take the low-wage, low-skill jobs unwanted by many Americans.
Of course, the reason these jobs are unwanted is because it’s nearly impossible to make a living off a low-wage job.
I’m convinced that if businesses were forced to adhere to the labor laws that are already on the books, this wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, we’ve got a domino-effect where one employer breaks the law (ie. Wal-Mart) and is able to undercut the competition so much that the business community makes the argument that the need to break the law in order to stay competitive. This is the “dire need” that Bush is referring to.
Maybe we really are living in Bizarro World. Where else would a government respond to rampant law-breaking by loosening the laws instead of enforcing them?
To take things back to Home Depot, if they are involved in setting up illegal “day worker” programs, then they should be targeted for criticism. Granted, on a one-on-one basis paying some poor guy to help build a fence may seem as trivial as paying the neighbor kid to mow your lawn, when a giant corporation has gotten involved, there’s no reason at all why they shouldn’t be paying taxes, following OSHA rules, ensuring that the workers make a minimum wage, etc.
1 : In case there’s any doubt about the true object of the protesters’ wrath, I should probably point out that one of their signs said “BAN MEXICO AND HOME DEPOT”.