Immigrants Value their Jobs as Janitors
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, as reported by the New York Times. Experts say that the building maintenance industry has welcomed these workers with open arms and illegal workers are anxious to fill the need for workers.
Reports indicate that the trend towards illegal immigrants in janitorial positions started about 30 years ago when contractors hired the new immigrant workers in an effort to drive down labor costs. The move resulted in unions falling apart, lower wages for workers and American-born workers leaving the industry for higher paying jobs. By 2000, Hispanic immigrants made up nearly 1 in 5 janitors in the U.s., according to research from Ruth Milkman, sociologist at the University of California, up from fewer than 1 in 20 in 1980.
Although this New York Times article highlights four illegal immigrants working and sharing their experiences in janitorial positions, employers insist that they are doing everything they can to comply with the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986, which made it a crime for companies to knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
Regardless of their efforts to prevent the hire of illegal immigrants, janitorial companies find it difficult to keep up with these aggressive workers providing convincing paperwork. Luckily, employers are protected by a large loophole in the law stating that they are not expected to distinguish between a fake ID and the real thing.
According to the article, "Companies have little to fear. The penalty for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants includes up to six months in jail — or up to five years in particularly egregious cases — and fines that range from $275 to $11,000 for each worker. Yet fines are typically negotiated down, and employers are almost always let off the hook. Only 46 people were convicted in 2004 for hiring illegal immigrants; the annual number has been roughly the same for the last decade."
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