Yesterday we looked at an editorial by the Miami Herald editorial board arguing that the country needs immigrant labor, including undocumented workers. On Monday, Reuters published a report where the oil industry, the one that Donald Trump routinely touts as a “win” for his policies is unable to meet labor requirements because of the broken immigration system.
The article quotes Johnny Vega as saying that he has plenty of work for his oil well service rigs but is unable to benefit from the Trump “oil boom” because he can’t get enough workers to work his equipment. The issue is not the workers, per se, but rather the lack of legal workers willing to do the work.
Because of this, Vega told Reuters that he has idle equipment that could be making $700,000 a month.
Vega said that it is “a lack of a system to get legal workers” that is hurting his oil business.
Many immigrant advocates and immigrants, like myself, argue that the issue is not about legal versus “illegal” workers but rather about a broken system that incentivizes undocumented workers.
As we saw in yesterday’s post, America needs low-skilled and low-wage workers willing to work in places the native-born U.S. worker is unwilling to do. This is the reality.
But rather than acknowledge this inconvenient fact, anti-immigrant advocates blame low wages on undocumented immigrants. But America’s economy demands low-wage workers.
The U.S. collective incentivizes undocumented workers by its lackluster and irrational immigration policy that fails to recognize that low-skilled workers are needed.
The xenophobes, the Trump supporters and the anti-immigrants grab on to the notion of a “legal” work force while ignoring the fact that the problem is not “undocumented” immigrants but rather a broken system no one wants to fix.
According to the article, the Permian Basin, a significant source of U.S. oil exports “is short 15,000 workers.” It is not that there are no workers, but rather the workers that are there and capable of filling the 15,000 slots are undocumented.
The need for workers is so acute, that one company; Ramirez and Sons is paying about $40,000 in legal fees to have five employees become legal. David Gallegos, the superintendent for Ramirez and Sons, told Reuters that the five undocumented workers are “worth fighting for”.
Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb, according to the article, said, “he is frustrated by the failure of political leaders at the national level to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants”.
The paper pointed out the obvious, even with E-Verify and the surge in workplace raids by ICE, “plenty of employers in Lea County still hire undocumented workers.”
The reason is clear, although many refuse to acknowledge it – the country needs immigrants workers.