Raoul Lowery Contreras
Special to El Observador
Mr. Trump, California’s Central Valley grapes, almonds and peaches are not being picked; in San Francisco, fast growing, booming new restaurants are being down-sized and fewer jobs being created; in Texas, the building boom has slowed and contractors are turning down contracts because they can’t handle the work for lack of workers. In Florida, oranges are falling to the ground because machines can’t tell the difference between a ripe orange and an unripe one.
Mr. Trump, help wanted signs are everywhere, people are going back to work yet entire occupations are bereft of the workers the work needs. Grapes are going unpicked in California – Not enough Mexican grape pickers.
Expansion of fast food taco shops in San Francisco is limited because the owner, a gavacho (non-Hispanic White) can’t find enough workers because of the cultural aspects of his popular food, Mexican workers are desired. They innately know how to prepare Mexican food.
A roofing contractor in Dallas is turning down millions of dollars in work because he can’t find enough workers that want to work and know what they are doing.
Wait, isn’t the border being flooded with illegal border crossers? Actually, it isn’t. There are a large number of women and children from Central America seeking asylum; the Border Patrol is having fits handling them. The poor Border Patrol has no clue as to what to do with them. They’ve tried treating them like criminals but the courts have stepped in and declared that illegal. Immigration judges (who aren’t real Article III judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate) deport the children willy-nilly.
What the border is not being inundated with are young Mexican men, those favored by American employers in agriculture, construction and the hospitality/restaurant businesses.
This not a new problem.
In 2004, President George W. Bush appeared on national television and outlined a comprehensive immigration program that was keyed to those industries. As he spoke there were 150,000 vacant restaurant jobs in California alone. Over the past 20 years, the National Farmworkers Survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown year after year that 50 percent of all farmworkers in the country are here and working illegally. Studies by the University of Arizona have shown that at the peak of the Arizona residential construction boom, without illegally present construction workers, new housing would took 13 weeks longer to finish and the units cost $50,000 more. It found that 25 percent of construction workers were here and working illegally.
In essence, Mr. Trump, there aren’t enough Mexican workers here to fill our needs. Our needs, Mr. Trump. You know this because you import Romanian workers to work at your Florida property.
Is the shortage because our 20,000 Border Patrol agents are crackerjack border enforcers? No, they are relatively useless. Last year agents apprehended only 400,000 people at the border it used to be millions. Why so few? The answer, Mr. Trump, is what the Mexican government did 30 years ago.
Three decades ago, rural Mexican women gave birth to seven children; today it is slightly over two. Mexican leaders implemented a national birth control program that was promulgated throughout the country from the multi-million populated Valley of Mexico to mountain villages where people don’t even speak Spanish and the “selva,” the jungle villages along the crocodile-infested Guatemalan border. The successful program cut birth rates dramatically; it continues. The number of 16-25 year-old Mexican men is far less than in previous decades.
Couple that with the growth of the Mexican auto industry and there simply aren’t enough Mexican men desiring to come here for work.
In the meanwhile, sectors of the American economy are suffering, Mr. Trump. Here is a solution that Congress can put on your desk immediately:
1. Expand the H2B work visa program for agriculture, construction and hospitality industries.
2. To streamline the H2B process by making it employer-originated.
3. Implement a data bank of prospective employees at American Consulates in Mexico that will vet the applications; the employer can simply go to the data bank and hire people directly, have the visa issued at the consulate and greet the employee at the work place.
4. Charge the employer $1000 for a two-year visa and allow the employer to collect half the fee from the employee over time.
No new law is necessary; just some tinkering of existing law. No new Border agents need be hired. Illegal border crosser numbers will drop and the Border Patrol will be able to cut its numbers and billions of dollars can be saved in the process.
Given a choice, a willing young Mexican man will fill out a job application that costs him $25 a thousand times rather than pay a smuggler $3000-5000 to sneak into the U.S. illegally. Mexicans aren’t stupid and neither are the employers who can’t find enough people to fill their empty jobs, Mr. Trump.