June 19, 2006


Here Illegally, Working Hard and Paying Taxes (EDUARDO PORTER, 6/19/06, NY Times)

In contrast to the typical image of an illegal immigrant — paid in cash, working under the table for small-scale labor contractors on a California farm or a suburban construction site — a majority now work for mainstream companies, not fly-by-night operators, and are hired and paid like any other American worker.

Polo — who, like all the workers named in this article, agreed to be interviewed only if his full identity was protected — is employed by a subsidiary of ABM Industries, a publicly traded company based in San Francisco with 73,000 workers across the country and annual revenues of $2.6 billion. Emilio works for the Kimco Corporation, a large private company with 5,000 employees in 30 states and sales of about $100 million.

More than half of the estimated seven million immigrants toiling illegally in the United States get a regular paycheck every week or two, experts say. At the end of the year they receive a W-2 form. Come April 15, many file income tax returns using special ID numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service so foreigners can pay taxes. Some even get a refund check in the mail.

And they are now present in low-skilled jobs across the country. Illegal immigrants account for 12 percent of workers in food preparation occupations, for instance, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Hispanic Center. In total, they account for an estimated one in 20 workers in the United States.

The building maintenance industry — a highly competitive business where the company with the lowest labor costs tends to win the contract — has welcomed them with open arms. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more than a quarter of a million illegal immigrants are janitors, 350,000 are maids and housekeepers and 300,000 are groundskeepers.

The janitorial industry has been transformed in recent years as a handful of companies have consolidated by taking over hundreds of small local operators. That activity has gone hand-in-hand with the steady advance of immigrants, legal and illegal — almost all of them Hispanic — who have been drawn into what was once an overwhelmingly American-born work force.

What always surprised me was how stoic the illagals I've worked with are about paying into the system from which they got back nothing, just accepting it as a reasonable cost for the opportunity they've been given.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2006 3:03 PM

The only anti-immigration argument that resonates with me is that we do not want to import the political culture of Mexico into our border areas. I tend to think that encouraging English speaking takes care of most of the problem. However, vesting these people properly for the SS taxes they pay is an important step in making sure they realize that our system is a fair deal unlike what they had back home.

Posted by: JAB at June 19, 2006 3:23 PM

Of course, it's opposed by those Americans who share the attitudes they're fleeing.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 3:29 PM

Probably a bad idea to get the newcomers (so much more pleasant a word than illegals, no?) to expect Social Security in its current form to exist when they reach retirement age. If anything, they should be less attached to our Second Way programs than the natives. And I never expect to see a nickel from Social Security. My 401(k), on the other hand...

Posted by: Random Lawyer at June 19, 2006 3:41 PM

Given that the illegals are mostly American Indians, I sit here pondering the meaning of "native". It's also interesting that these illegals tend to fare better than our own Indians. Of course, the same is true of Black African immigrants.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 19, 2006 4:22 PM

You're right about the advantages of bringing in all these hard-working gun-loving Roman Catholics.

Let's get that "Are you an illegal alien?" question off the Brady check and the carry papers applications so we can start incorporating our friends into the gun culture.

Honest to gosh--I am dead-bang serious about this.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 19, 2006 5:11 PM

It's not just Mexico, when the southern hemisphere really turns to marxism and they want out, where do you think they're going to come?

Posted by: Sandy P at June 19, 2006 6:37 PM

Hopefully here, though the Euros will be offering them cash and housing.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 6:43 PM

oj: What cash?

Posted by: b at June 19, 2006 7:12 PM





Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 7:19 PM

Yes, I'm familiar with the theme. However, those links do not involve actually giving cash to immigrants to induce them to come. They talk about various other sorts of inducements, ranging from pathetic PR pitches to tax breaks (pretty much equivalent to cash, I concede) to crappy jobs. The point of my original post is that Europe has no money to offer.

Posted by: b at June 19, 2006 7:25 PM

But they need the taxes immigrants will pay, so a little cash pays off later.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 10:18 PM

Considering that despite all their multi-culti blather (really just encoded anti-Americanism), Europeans are in general extremely racist, they almost certainly will not view what they "need" the same as you do...

Posted by: b at June 20, 2006 12:31 PM

They're more selfish than they are racist. They need someone to fund the welfare state until they die off.

Posted by: oj at June 20, 2006 12:36 PM

But when you add up the unapologetic racists and those old enough to think they won't live to see the collapse of their social model, you have a governing majority.

Posted by: b at June 20, 2006 12:52 PM

Nope. Selfishness trumps all.

Posted by: oj at June 20, 2006 12:56 PM

Not to mention ego, orrin.

Posted by: Ptah at June 20, 2006 1:08 PM

Selfishness is ego.

Posted by: oj at June 20, 2006 1:11 PM

So, who actually believes they'll get more out of Social Security than they put in?

Posted by: Ptah at June 20, 2006 10:18 PM

We'll all get vastly more--we're importing 100 million additional workers to fund it.

Posted by: oj at June 20, 2006 10:54 PM