Now that my kids are finally (finally!) out of daycare and I have some freed-up funds, I can afford something I've worked long and hard for: a housecleaning service. This is important to a full-time working mom like me, not just for my sanity and my marriage, but for my kids, as I'd much rather spend my weekends with them than with my vacuum cleaner and scrub brush.
The woman from the cleaning ad gave me an almost hard-to-refuse price. But when she insisted on being paid in cash, I knew she was an illegal alien. I will not hire her. As much as I hate to pass up a good deal, I will grit my teeth and go with the service using legal workers that costs $40 more.
President Obama, in a speech at American University yesterday, highlighted a number of his solutions to the illegal immigration problem, and tamping down on businesses that hire from this pool of 11 million law-breaking immigrants (of all races and nationalities) like my cleaning woman is one of them.
This is a good start, but businesses probably wouldn't hire as many of these workers if more people like me refused to hire those businesses in the first place.
Obama is on the right track with his immigration reform, though I diverge on his border philosophy. We DO need to secure the border before we tackle the longer-term issues, else we lose all hope of ever getting things under control. But even before the border, it starts with you and me.
Many of the illegal aliens I know (and bosh to that "undocumented worker" crap, we should call them what they are) are lovely, hardworking people who I'd actually love to hire to help them build a better life in this country. As Obama says, immigrants have and always will be a part of the "fabric," ingenuity, and hope of America.
But why should I work hard every day, week after week, year after year, to watch taxes drain my paycheck faster than a vampire on True Blood, and then hand over the remainder to someone who gets to keep it all? If they want some of mine, they have to give up some of theirs. Fair's fair. And it's in their best interest, too.
I've seen how badly some of these workers are treated by their employers. When we had our roof replaced, the American contractor used mostly illegal aliens (and this is when we vowed we would never hire another company who did this again), and he barely gave them breaks for lunch. And based on the low quote he gave us, far lower than many of his competitors, I'm guessing their wages were not spectacular, either.
And this isn't just about people who come from south of the border. The guys who redid our wood floors five years ago -- all lily-white Irish guys -- were also here past their visa expiration date, which we found out after the fact. So don't assume based on color. Ask them!
And here's another side benefit to refusing to hire illegal aliens for jobs around the house that's really a separate problem altogether: Our uppity kids. Today's American teens can and should be doing many of these jobs, but they don't because they believe it's "beneath them." I can't tell you how many teens I know who say they can't find a summer job "because of the economy." True, they can't find the job they'd like to have -- a cushy desk job in an air-conditioned office doing something "creative" -- but they can probably operate a paint brush just fine if they'd take their entitlement factor down a notch or two.
Think of immigration just like parenting. We're not being hard-ass because we hate you, but because we love you and all you do for us. We want you to have a great life, but you have to follow the rules, else we'll always resent you. Small efforts make all the difference. And taking a tough line in the beginning leads to a more disciplined, responsible, appreciative child in the end. And hopefully, one who also obeys the law.
Have you or would you hire an illegal alien to do work around your house or for your company?
Image via obeth1/Flickr