Several audience members questioned McCain about his stance on immigration, though their perspectives ranged from complaining about immigrants returning to the U.S. after being expelled for criminal activity to arguing Americans do not want the jobs immigrants perform.
"People don't say to their children, 'I want you to get an education so you can grow up and be a roofer,'" said one woman. "We don't have people who want to do those jobs."
In apparent agreement:
McCain said he understood the need for qualified foreign workers, adding he believed the U.S. could only solve this intractable political problem by "securing the borders first" and then moving forward with more comprehensive reform. "I don't think you can take it piecemeal," he told the questioner.
Yes, agreed, there is a need for qualified foreign workers - but not for the reason the woman states or McCain agrees too. Part of any plan to fix immigration must - must - include a vastly streamlined system for allowing foreign workers entry and the ability to ensure they can be tracked.
But I don't know how you agree with the woman's point that "we don't have people who want to do those jobs". If the cards I find in my mailbox weekly are any indication, there are many Americans who would love to put a roof on my house, do any drywall or carpentry work I might have a need for and painting - no job is too small, or so they claim.
While I recognize that what she says about "being a roofer" isn't necessary a parent's dream for their child, it doesn't follow that because that's not their dream, it isn't a job Americans want or won't do.
The larger point about ensuring a supply of qualified foreign labor to fill the gaps where our supply isn't adequate (remember we've had 4% unemployment for a few years even with a illegal immigrant population which numbers in the millions) is valid. But can we get off this rationalization that foreign workers are necessary primarily because they do jobs Americans don't want to do?
"Jobs American’s won’t do" because the competition from illegals has held the pay down? Especially if legal labor gets to pay taxes and provide benefits to the illegals? How is this fair?
I have nothing against the poor Mexicans who are trying to provide for their families. They are too easily exploitable. There are plenty of Americans who are not going to be knowledge workers. What consideration do we owe them?
It’s a complex issue, but I am convinced that what we are doing now is unjust. Our leaders, in both parties, are corrupt. That oath about the Constitution? They lied.
I’ve got in-laws for whom roofing used to be a steady income. They were classic Florida "crackers" - rednecks is the generic term. Decent, hardworking, unassuming people but out of the roofing business now due to competition from illegals.
Heard Trent Lott on a news clip this morning exhorting Republicans to snap to and jump on the McCain bandwagon.
I’ll let McCain make a serious gesture that he understands the importance of illegal immigration BEFORE that "McCain 2008" sticker goes on my car or before I make that PayPal campaign contribution.
"securing the borders first" and then moving forward with more comprehensive reform.
Not necessarily pointing to McCain, but this is the line often sold to voters and taxpayers, which is all well and reasonable, but there always seems to be a effort, after the fact, to de-fund the "securing the borders first" portion.
In the long-past days of my youth (early 1970s), it was generally considered that construction jobs were an excellent opportunity for the non-college-going young man to earn a reasonably middle-class wage. Even if you were going to college, construction work was a popular summer job because it paid much better than most. A good friend of mine was put through engineering school by his father working as a roofer. It definitely wasn’t work that Americans wouldn’t do.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of low-cost competition for those jobs now. I lecture my kids that if they let their grades sag, they’d better study harder in Spanish class because they’ll need to speak that to get a construction job these days. The construction crews here (Denver) speak Spanish almost exclusively. Teenagers used to work in fast food places as a first job too, but it’s the same story there. Jobs Americans won’t do, or jobs no longer available to Americans because we have several million other folks here competing for them?
Do these people live in some weird, yuppie, gated reality where everyone they see, have ever known, or are related to is a doctor, lawyer, or accountant? Do they think that all native-born Americans (including blacks) are college material? More proof that higher education does not require higher intelligence. What ’we’ is she speaking of?
My wife’s family is from Ecuador, and some of her aunts came here and ended up working in a car wash. They were teachers back home, now they are middle aged women washing cars.
They make less than minimum wage ’cause they are illegal, and the family views it as something of an injustice. They don’t grasp that their illegal/low pay status is the only reason they have the jobs . . .
"we dont want to pay the real market price for american labor."
so import an illegal alien so i can save a few bucks. also i question the long term implications of creating a guest worker program. are we going to create a 2nd class of citizen that has less rights? what are the long term implications of this?
If I were building a house or an addition here, I would hire the Amish, and not union contractors, because the Amish build much faster and much cheaper. We don’t have illegals here, but the principle is the same. Yet, for some reason, so-called conservatives are insisting that I should pay inflated wages that the market will not bear, only so these people who will not work for competitive wages can get more of my money.
Sorry, but if I subscribed to that illogical line of reasoning, I’d be a Democrat.
I have a solution. Prison labor. Inmates of various penal facilities have plenty of free (heh) time on their hands, and can be induced to work for even less than uninvited-guest workers. Forcing these American citizens to remain idle distorts the labor market, inflating wages.
Here in Washington, D.C. the school system is spending millions building and reintroducing vocational schools. The DC, MD & VA areas have a huge need for skilled contstruction workers. Our school systems are also putting out apprentice engineers, plumbers and carpenters. Several surban schools actually build an entire brand-new house and auction it for sale.
Not everyone is college material or really wants to spend an additional 4 years and many thousands of dollars for a undergrad degree. Sometimes kids need to begin work immediately to help their families. Have any of you paid a HVAC guy lately? Or for that matter had your Honda repaired? Have you tried to get anything repaired in your house at all? The princes they charge are definitely middle-class.
These are the types of jobs that 20 years ago U.S. citizens raised whole families on - why can’t they do the same now. Oh, I know - illegal immigrant labor is undercutting their wages and their representatives are telling them to smile while they take it up the rear!