808AM | Del Taco, Aliso Viejo
This country will always see immigration as a problem until it is able to frame the issue in the proper way. Immigration is a labor resource issue first and foremost, with socio-economic consequences. Many of the people who cross the border to seek employment here in this country are young and abled bodies hoping to earn a living and make a small fortune so they can return home. They do so responding to the irresistible magnetism of the “Land of Opportunity” that they hear about from people, from books and from movies. American companies and industries do not only need their labor and creative output, they also depend on them.
An informal survey we took recently revealed that many of the first generation undocumented immigrants do not have the desire to stay here in this country, if given a choice. One reason is that they could live better lives in their countries of origin with the wages that they are able to save while here in America. Often they spend their productive years here and move back to their countries to retire where it is more affordable. However, digging deeper, many will say politely that they do not necessarily feel welcome in this country despite many years of devoted service to their employers.
This administration has a very hostile attitude towards undocumented immigrants, deporting 418,397 in 2012 and 438,421 in 2013. Despite those numbers, the deportation protocols are often devoid of due process. Not all detainees appear before a judge to argue the reason why they should not be deported. Employers are not allowed to offer character reference testimonies or to vouch for their stay. They are placed in vans and driven back across the border.
The consequence to the businesses that employ them vary from being mildly disrupted to experiencing something potentially catastrophic. Many of those deported are low-skilled workers and conceptually easy to replace especially for franchise businesses with systemized training programs. However, for a small company replacing an individual with years of experience the process isn’t that seamless, creating disruptions at every level in the enterprise and the company’s bottom line. For many companies it usually requires managers to take up the slack until the person is replaced or the replacement is brought to speed. That means that the people doing the work are likely overqualified and overpaid for the tasks, putting pressure on price and margins.
Until we have a majority of our politicians in office with real life experiences running businesses – who’ve stayed awake at night because of payroll – we will struggle with immigration. Perhaps, they should try meaningful consultations that bring together business owners and managers, whose efforts and tax contributions along with their employees’ will pay for this nation’s debt burden. There may be some study somewhere that shows the correlative effect between the number of people deported and the economic performance. It’s very difficult to ignore. Perhaps our politicians forget that these people do not only contribute to the economy by spending, they also make products and services affordable for American consumers. Try the $0.59 taco or $1.00 burger that are produced on the backs of people willing to work for, not one but two, minimum wage jobs without any attitude. They’ll realize that these people make up America’s competitive advantage in this increasingly fast-paced global economy.
What’s wrong with getting out of the businesses’ way? What is wrong with lifting all those obstacles that make the people and businesses productive? If they took the time, they’ll realize that many of these people being sent back across the border are some of the most honest, decent and hardworking people they will ever meet in their life – the very qualities that make this a great country.