Swans Commentary » swans.com April 9, 2007  



American Ingenuity And The Immigration Problem


by Jan Baughman





(Swans - April 9, 2007)  Anti-immigrant sentiment is sweeping across the globe, resulting in many creative approaches to the preservation of nationalism while still maintaining a comfortable way of life. In the U.S., solutions range from building the Great Wall of America along the Mexican border, to sweeping raids on meatpacking plants, and depriving societal benefits to migrant workers who contribute their difficult labor to society. Such efforts are indeed producing their desired results -- take Colorado, for example, where recent legislation denied such aliens access to state-funded services (e.g., medical care), thereby causing the workers to move to someone else's state, and freeing up all those jobs that had been stolen from legitimate Americans. Problem is, the Americans did not queue up to apply for those back-breaking jobs picking melons, onions, and peppers, so food growers are panicking over how they will continue to reap the fruits of their harvests.

Turns out we can't have our kale and eat it too.

But enter American ingenuity! One segment of society with an abundance of able-bodied American workers exists in our prison-industrial complex, and Colorado is considering a proposal to allow inmates to volunteer to work the farms... for a wage of 60 cents per day. Indentured servants to the rescue! Under this proposal, the growers would pay the state something like $9 per hour for each inmate laborer -- more than the migrant workers received, of course. The growers would also have to hire prison guards to ensure the prisoner/laborers do not make a run for it while on the job. It's an all around win-win situation for budget-challenged states, labor-challenged businesses, and for-profit prisons. In fact, why export perfectly good jobs to Honduras and pay 43 cents per hour, when you can have it Made in the USA for 60 cents per day? Oh, wait -- we're already doing that.

And imagine the possibilities for the military! With recruitment numbers waning, casualties mounting, and desertion on the rise, it just so happens that incarceration rates are at an all-time high and guaranteed to keep growing, so we have a veritable captive population that can help us fight the global war on terror on every possible front, and more. Oh, the wars we could wage at cents on the dollar with 2.2 million prisoners at our beck and call. Enlist the criminals! Oh, wait, we're already doing that, too.

It's all related, it seems, and there is a very good and little talked about reason to keep the immigrants out of the country -- they don't fill the prison quotas like the natives do, contrary to propaganda. Recent studies showed that "immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined." Not only that, their presence here has been shown to actually increase wages for everyone else, by their occupying the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. (1)

It would appear, then, that immigrants put upward pressure on wages, downward pressure on food prices, and the only jobs they deny Americans are those of potential prison labor -- all things to chew on this summer while we are captivated by the taste of those juicy Colorado melons.



1.  "Immigrants boost pay, not prison populations, new studies show," by Teresa Watanabe; Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2007.  (back)


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Internal Resources

Let 'em Eat Kale - Jan Baughman (November 1999)

Patterns which Connect


About the Author

Jan Baughman on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art13/jeb172.html
Published April 9, 2007