Recently I heard a report on NPR that since illegal immigrants are having a harder time getting into and staying in our Country, American farmers are having a harder time getting their crops harvested. Now while I whole-heartedly agree that you’re welcome to come to America seeking a better life, you must do so through proper channels (just like in any other Country), the problem with turning away (or sending back) so many of these hard working individuals is that American citizens are not willing to pick up the slack.
For whatever reason, a majority of American’s have decided that hard manual labor is beneath them and not worth the money it pays. One Washington farmer stated that every time he’s hired an American to work on his vegetable farm, they quit within a few days finding the work too hard. One such worker even stated that he’d rather work 8-hours at McDonald’s for minimum wage, than 12-hours on the farm for $3-5 more than minimum wage!
Meanwhile his foreman of 20 years (originally an illegal immigrant who now has a green card), is very happy to have the consistent work and has been able to bring the rest of his family from Mexico, buy a house, pay taxes (unlike our President Elect), and his grandchildren are all going to college. That’s the American dream, right?
Many small farms have even had to close down (leaving those American families without income) because they can’t use illegal migrant workers any more but few American-born workers will fill the gap. Even the large, federally subsidized farms are having trouble getting their fast-growing crops (thanks to GMO seeds) harvested in time because they can’t hire enough “legal” workers.
I have to ask, what’s wrong with working in the field people? I know it’s “back-breaking work” in a lot of ways, but fresh air, and lots of calorie burn (active farmers are rarely over-fat) is not too shabby an option if you need consistent work – compared to working in a fast-food joint at least in my opinion. It’s not just farming and gardening that we shy away from. Even unionized jobs like car manufacturing assembly (where machines do 70% more of the heavy lifting labor than 100 years ago) cater to our need to have “down time” and comfortable environments and food breaks, yada yada yada. While Unions are important to keep us from being abused by employers, we still need to embrace HARD WORK.
My husband used to run a day spa, and he had an abundance of white educated applicants for front desk jobs and massage therapists. But the drudgery work – the cleaning of rooms and maintaining of equipment – was filled 95% by Latin American immigrants (Guatemala, Honduras, etc.) Granted, a lot of it has to do with language skills and education – but there still seems to be a disconnect between jobs available in our country, and jobs that we’re willing to take. Yet we complain about those who will do that drudgery. Can’t have it both ways.
So I think we need to take a hard look at what we’re teaching the current and future generations about hard work and how to earn a living when life throws you a curve ball. I’m teaching my daughter to always have a back up plan to your career goals, and always be willing to work hard for whatever it is she wants.
With 2016 winding down, and a radical new presidency upon us, now more than ever we need to band together as Americans and be willing to work ALL the jobs our Nation needs to stay “great.” From farms, to mechanical labor, restaurants to offices, no job is too small if it gets you (and America) from point A to point B.