Inequality In the Workforce The Mexican Immigrant by Jordan Ramos
Mexicans In The United States• In 2009 the population of Mexican-born immigrants was 11.5 million, accounting for 32% of all foreign born residents. Key word: "Residents"• The rough calculation of mexican immigrants in the US often lacks the inclusion of illegal immigrants, because of the consequences of being deported.• According to the Immigration and Nationality Act the illegal entry on non-nationals to the US is a misdemeanor.• Most Americans are not aware of the lengthy and expensive process of receiving a green card. Since green cards can cost close to $2,000 It often takes an endorsement of a family member or employer (in professional jobs), refugee status, or diversity lottery. It also requires application forms and medical tests.• Between the price and the process of getting a green card, Mexicans searching opportunities in the United States often instead decide to cross the boarder illegally.
Brief Economic History of Mexico• Starting in the 1940s Mexico witnessed a growth in their economy due to the government’s concentration on primary education which lead to a better economic output.• Through the 1970s the Mexican government expanded its Manufacturing output and concentrated heavily on energy, transportation, and basic industry. However by the 1980s due to higher world interest rates, rising inflation, falling oil prices, and an overvalued peso led to an economic crisis.• Mexico recovered slightly from this crisis but then faced another economic downfall in 1994 and the continuing decline of the peso.• The Mexican Economic Crisis of 1982 would be the start of a huge increase in the immigration of Mexicans to the United States• According to the World Bank in 2002 half of the population in Mexico was living in poverty and one fifth in extreme poverty.
Work of an Immigrant• The jobs that are available for Mexican’s upon arrival to the United States often consists of laborious service jobs that are stigmatized as low end jobs. They are often the bottom of the barrel jobs that many people would never do but yet they are jobs that are needed to be done in order to continue the functionality of society.• The decrease of industrial jobs and the increase of professional work in the United States has been largely beneficial for white Americans while many of the service jobs that have appeared in the place of industry has been left for immigrants and other minorities.• “...service workers are [often] expected to be subservient to customers, especially in the least professionalized, lowest paying service industries.” (Halasz, module 4)• Especially in California, where there is a large population of mexican immigrants (illegal and not), many Mexican workers do not have a steady job and instead must wake up early and wait on the street for someone who is in need of labor to work. This method is not dependable since some days you may not find a job and you also have no idea how much you will receive.• Mexican women who come to work in the United States are often forced into jobs as housemaids, nannies, hotel service workers, etc. These jobs are also stigmatized as low skilled jobs and in turn receive low compensation.
Work of an Immigrant• http://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.t03.htm• The link above shows the median usual weekly earnings of full time wage workers by age, race, sex, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity• The table shows that the average weekly salary for white males 25 years and over is $902 and for white women of the same age group is $732. For Hispanic or Latino male workers their average weekly salary $596 while for Hispanic or Latino female workers is $538• It is important to remember that these are the statistics of documented workers and does not include undocumented workers who witness even more inequality. Also while these are statistics for documented workers it still shows the disparity between the races as well as between the genders even within the races.• In the article The Nanny by Arlie Russell Hochschild it talks about how immigrant women leave their children in their home country to become a nanny in first world countries. She talks about a global care chain where when the mom leaves an older daughter to care for the siblings while her mother cares for the children of a migrated mother, who is caring for the children of a first world family. Hochschild writes, “Immigrant nannies and au pairs often divert feelings originally directed toward their own children toward their young charges in this country.”(2000, 34)
Work of an Immigrant• Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser depicts the modern day meat packing industry in a true Upton Sinclair fashion. The article portrays the patriarchal industry where supervisors are men and the workers are women. These workers are forced to horrible conditions where they complete the same job for eight hours a day, whether they are using the cattle prod, slicing the jugular, removing the organs, or slicing the meat.• Each job is not only gruesome but it is dangerous as well. Every year more than one quarter of the forty thousand workers suffer an injury or work-related illness that requires more than first aid, more than any other industry.(2001, 333) Many of these workers are illegal immigrants and are forced to hide there injuries so that they may keep their jobs. Employers may place an injured worker to an “easier” station to avoid a lawsuit.• The article describes numerous cases where people were killed or injured on the job and yet the company was able to slip through the courts and maintain their poor treatment or employees and fear induced mentality. There are no words for the horror stories that are told in this article, often injured workers sent to a hospital are immediately sent back to work.•
The Stigma of the Alien• Many Americans believe that illegal immigration is the cause of many of the economic problems that face our country today. Their claims are that they take many jobs, they don’t pay taxes, they weaken the economy, the list goes on.• However many of the stigmas that are held against illegal immigrants are actually false. For one, illegal immigrants in fact do pay taxes. They pay sales tax when they buy goods, they pay property taxes for the places they live and in some occasions pay income tax. Income Tax comes out of ones paycheck and part of it goes to social security which is not available to immigrants.• Another false stigma is that illegal Mexican immigrants drain the medicaid while in fact undocumented immigrants are not eligible for medicaid and receive unemployment benefits.• During the recession in 2008 many white americans loss their jobs and were forced to apply for unemployment benefits. One the other hand many illegal immigrants also loss their jobs but are unable to receive those benefits so were forced to either return home or search for an income anyways they can. In 2008 Hispanic immigrants saw a greater loss than Hispanics born in the US and black workers. (Pew Hispanic Center)• Over the past decade discrimination against illegal and legal immigrants has increased to do the declining economy and job market. Many white americans fear that these immigrants are crowding the job market making it harder for them to find jobs.
The Benefits of Immigrants• From a purely economic point of view immigrants who come to the United States provide the workforce for cheap labor. This keeps the economy moving because these jobs still need to be completed. They provide many of the services that we take for granted.• They also increase the consumer base for goods and services and pay sales tax produced in this country that boosts the economy.• As listed in a previous slide they also provide some funding for social security even though they can not receive it.• Mexican Immigrants are also allowed to open up bank accounts in the US which means they pay interest and dividends to the bank strengthening the economy.• Although the stigma exists that illegal and legal immigrants weaken the economy the turth is they actually strengthen the economy as well as the workforce. Unfortunately there is a strong essence of xenophobia that exists among the American people and it continues the discrimination and inequality against immigrants.
Beneﬁts of Immigrants• Many of the immigrants who come to the US in search for better opportunities send 100-200 dollars home a month to their family members. President of Mexico Vicente Fox has told reporters, “The 20 million Mexicans in the United States generate a gross product that is slightly higher than the $600 billion generated by Mexicans in Mexico.”(2003)• Remittances are Mexico’s biggest of foreign income, more than oil, tourism, and foreign investment.• The table below shoes the GDP of both the US and Mexico and while the US’s GDP is significantly higher than Mexico one can notice an increase in Mexico’s GDP since 1995.
North American Free Trade Agreement• On January 1st, 1994 the leaders of the three North American countries signed a free trade treaty that would eliminate barriers of trade and investment of the three countries. The results of this agreement were hidden behind a facade of promises of increase job employment in Mexico as well as duty free trade.• However since the signing of NAFTA Mexico has witnessed a huge economic downfall (refer to table on previous slide to see the drop of Mexico’s GDP after 1994) as well as the collapse of the peso.• Since 1994 the middle class has shrunk and the number of poor has grown.• Funding for farm programs in Mexico dropped from $2 billion in 1994 to $500 million by 2000. But, at the same time the US Congress increased subsidies for corn, wheat, livestock, dairy, and other products exported to Mexico. American farmers were now receiving 7.5 to 12 times more in government help than Mexican farmers which forced the latter out of the markets.• NAFTA also saw a decrease in rural jobs and an increase in the factories in Northern Mexico, which are known for their harsh conditions and low pay.• In the end NAFTA was a horror story hidden behind a fairy tale. It was said to benefit the poor and middle class while instead they had to pay for the consequences while the rich corporate elites gained all of the benefits from the trade Agreement.• To make things worse, in 2000 the US sponsored China’s entrance to the World Trade Agreement which
Conclusion• Mexican Immigrants, especially illegal, face severe inequality in the workforce because they are often forced under the radar of equal rights protection. Even though our neighbors to the south come up and work the hardest jobs and boost our economy they are still given a stigma that in todays society are worse than most other minority groups.• Forced to work as servants, slaughterhouse, or selling crack many of the jobs are either subservient, dangerous, or illegal but it is the only way that they can make money.• The stigma does not stop at foreign-born immigrants either, it is often carried on to their children who gain American citizenship. Growing up in low income communities regardless of their citizenship many of these children will grow to work in the same conditions as their parents.• Ironically while the conservative leaders battle illegal immigration to the United States they also make things more difficult in Mexico by creating policies that disadvantage their opportunities. It is a hypocritical vicious circle that is kept in motion by these policies. What the major economic countries of the world do is modern imperialism in that they basically control the economy of the lower economic countries.• It is an xenophobic ideology that exists in American society and as the economy weakens we point the finger towards these immigrants because they are different and foreign. This ideology is seen throughout history, similar to slavery, women inferiority, or even the Jews in Germany. While maybe not as extreme as some situations it still carries the idea of inferior versus superior beings. It is a mentality that would take a major paradigm shift that is almost impossible because it would require changes in multiple institutions as well as a drop of the ideology within conservative thinkers.
Resources• Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. (2011) Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by age, race, hispanic or latino ethnicity, and sex. Washington, DC:Retrieved from http:// www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.to3.htm• Faux, Jeff. (2003). How nafta failed mexico. The American Prospect, retrieved from http://prospect.org/cs/articles? article=how_nafta_failed_mexico• Halasz, Judy. (2011) “Module 4: Deindustrialization, Service and Low Wage Work” SOC 407: Organization and Work.• Hochschild, Arlie Russell. (2000) “The Nanny Chain” The American Prospect 11(4)(January 3):32-36.• Lugo, Luis Alonso. (2003). Remittances are mexico’s biggest source of income, says fox. Associated Press, Retrieved from http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/news/mexico/2003/0924-2051-us-mexico.html• Schlosser, Eric. (2001). “The Most Dangerous Job” in Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. NY: Houghton Mifﬂin Company.