Thursday, April 07, 2005

Illegal Immigration Illegal Immigration

There is the usual discussion going on right now on on how evil illegal immigration is. I respectfully disagree.

About 30 years ago, I worked at a brick factory in Boulder. It was back breaking work. You would either slam ten bricks together and pick them up horizontally, turn and stack them, or pick them up the same way wet, turn around and stack them on the drying racks. You did this for two hours, got a 15 minute break, two hours, 30 minute lunch, two hours, 15 minute break, two hours, and then you were done, unless there was a rush, and you had to work overtime. It was union, but only paid about 25% above minimum wage.

The owners of the brick company were both CU grads, and would love to have hired CU students. But, they would typically last less than a week. So, they ended up with a bunch of Mexicans, who would spend 4 months a year back in Mexico living like kings while the factory was closed for the winter (in Colo., most construction is during the summer). No one questioned their immigration status very closely, for good reason.

What was impressive was how hard they worked and how much they made that hard work enjoyable. Every half an hour or so, two of the younger guys would get into a race on stacking bricks, and the rest of us could kick back for ten minutes and slide. Made the job much more tolerable for those, like me, who were not used to this hard of work.

By and large, my experience with Mexican workers has been like this ever since. For the most part, they tend to work very hard in jobs that all those teenagers, et al. that you are talking about, who grew up in front of TVs, would refuse to do.


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