Kentucky Derby Proves Immigrants Are Needed for the Country

Last week we considered the iconic car manufacturer, Tesla, having to go to México to bolster its engineering teams. Tesla demonstrated the fallacy that Mexican immigrants are only menial laborers taking jobs away from U.S. workers. The issue of a shortage of U.S. engineers is not about quantity, as many times assumed, but rather it is an issue of the quality of the U.S. engineers. Tesla was forced to go to México in search of quality engineers. Like Tesla, there are many other examples to disprove the false narrative about Mexican immigrants.

The other false narrative is that U.S. workers can fill the ranks of deported Mexican workers if given the opportunity. The agricultural sector has continually disproved this, but the false narrative continues. Earlier this month, the Kentucky Derby demonstrated another aspect of the need for immigrants for U.S. jobs.

According to the Associated Press in an article published in Fox News Sports on May 1, immigrants have become an indispensable part of Churchill Downs, according to people in the industry referenced in the article. Dale Romans, the second-winningest trainer in Churchill’s history, was quoted by the AP as stating that “he can’t find American workers to do jobs.” Romans was additionally quoted; “This is definitely a business that survives on an immigrant workforce.” He added, “Without it, I don’t know what we would do.”

Clearly, immigrants are needed in the horse racing industry in the U.S. This is contradicting to the notion that when the immigrant workforce is deported, U.S. workers will step up to fill the need.

The first argument that is likely to be made by some is that the issue is about the problem about undocumented immigrants. They’ll argue, like they have previously, that those that come to work legally have no problems. Yet, that is also another false narrative disproved by the Kentucky Derby.

The AP article quotes an H-2B visa holder, who is legally able to work in the horse industry, as being afraid because he fears eventually being kicked out of the country because of Trump. He is often told to “be careful” as he goes about his work.

Horse racing is a $25 billion-dollar industry, according to the Washington Post (Gilpin, Lyndsey, May 4, 2016), and it is an industry that is forced to depend on undocumented immigrants because the visa process for H-2B visas is onerous and visa allotments are much less than the number of jobs required to fill the slots necessary to keep the industry working. The H-2B visas requires that the hiring entity give preferential treatment to U.S. workers, but often the U.S. workers are not interested in working in the labor-intensive job for $15 to $16 an hour. The visa system limits the number of workers it allows in legally. Its allotment is much less than the jobs that need to be filled.

The Guardian on May 6 put it more succinctly: “We can’t find workers this year- it’s been tough…Most of the workers we have at the track won’t even leave to go out at night to buy groceries because they are so scared of being deported.” The Guardian attributed this quote to Julio Rubio of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

The notion that immigrants are detrimental to the U.S. is proved to be false through the recent experience of the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the premiere horse race demonstrates that immigrants are an important part of the United States.