What Apple Computers problem with Mike Daisey has to do with our Immigration conundrum

 

I have been a big proponent of Amnesty for our immigrants in the country illegally. My reason has always been, “We knew they were here, we bought products made, harvested, delivered by them. We enjoyed many services they provided us and not once did we take a stand and boycott a company because we were getting a good price because of immigrant labor. We are complicit in this whole problem. Our immigration debacle exists solely because of our demand for good prices and the governments inability to create systems to allow our industries to get the labor they need legally. Because of our participation, no, our creation of this problem, we owe it to the immigrants to create a system where they can stay here legally.

 

A recent interview by two reporters discussing the recent Mike Daisey fiasco makes this point very well. Ira Glass from “This American Life” that broke the false story about Apple Computers, and later retracted it, speaks with Charles Duhigg of the New York Times. 1

 

“Charles Duhigg: … do you feel comfortable knowing that iPhones and iPads and, and other products could be manufactured in less harsh conditions, but that these harsh conditions and perpetuate because of an
economy that you are supporting with your dollars.
Ira Glass: Right. I am the direct beneficiary of those harsh conditions.
Charles Duhigg: You’re not only the direct beneficiary; you are actually one of the reasons why it exists. If you made different choices, if you demanded different conditions, if you demanded that other people enjoy the same work protections that you yourself enjoy, then, then those conditions would be different overseas.”

 

 

We are not only the beneficiaries of illegal labor, But we are the reason it exists in the first place. If we would have demanded the U.S. Government get us the labor we needed to supply us with the labor that affords us this lifestyle, we would not have this problem today.

 

Picking on the immigrant and trying to put all the blame on them for this situation would be the same as putting the blame of poor working conditions in China on the laborers themselves. (had there really been poor working conditions) Amnesty or a Pardon, or whatever you want to call it, is really the only honorable way out of this mess. It’s time to stop picking on the worker and take responsibility for this mess, and fix it before it gets any worse.

 

 

 

1 You can read the whole story here   http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/18/apple-and-the-daisey-affair/?hpt=hp_t3

An Argument for Amnesty

 

Although our laws have changed many times over the years, our attitudes towards immigrants have remained the same, even while admitting we are a “melting pot” country and that immigrants made this country all that it is today.

 

We have always had a need / fear relationship with immigrants. Our history of laws tells this story quite eloquently.

 

During the gold rush, California was awash in asian immigrants who came here looking for opportunity. We needed cheap laborers to build the railroads, do our laundry, cook, work in mines, and any other hard unwanted work. We weren’t too pleased with our immigrant workers, but they served a purpose so we put up with them, until gold became scarce and the competition for work made them more undesirable. We really liked to single out our asian immigrants, imposing more rules and limits on them than any other immigrant community. We even specifically banned Chinese in 1892.

 

Currently we are demonizing the Mexican immigrant, and grouping all other latino immigrants in with them by proxy.  As with the Chinese, we liked them when times were good. They did the hard and dirty work and made our lives much easier, but ever since jobs began to get scarce, we needed to blame someone for what ails us and they look like the easiest target. After we get over demonizing Latinos, I am sure we will find another immigrant base to focus our anger and responsibility on. If history does repeat itself, my money is on the Chinese. They seem to be our favorite.

 

If we look at our immigrant forefathers, when they first came to this country, they were persecuted and made scapegoats for any problem that the citizens of this country did not see fit to take responsibility for themselves. Because of this, every successive wave of immigrants has had to endure this treatment, until finally they became accepted and the focus on them decreased. This was almost always because of a newer group of immigrants who appeared to be more of a threat than the previous one.

 

For the past several years there has raged a large debate as to what to do with the millions of undocumented latino workers living in our country. Politicians have see-sawed over this issue countless times, promising improvements in immigration policy and then restating their positions after considerable party pressure. It’s like they want to do the right thing, but when they feel like they may be eaten by their own, they retreat to the comfort and protection of their party.  This may be very much our fault too.

 

And that is the point isn’t it? Whose fault is it that they are here illegally to begin with? Should we put the blame for this situation on the people who were just working within the constructs of what they were given, or on the people who created the need but ignored the systems required to satisfy that need? And if it is our fault– if the immigrants had no control over a system that is broken beyond belief and has been for years– then how can we blame and punish them? After all, aren’t we the only ones who can create the policies and institutions necessary to ensure everyone who comes into this country is identified, and we have the labor we need?

 

Lets end the blame game and get on with the solution, which leads me to my original proposition: Isn’t amnesty the honorable way out of this mess?

 

These people have been here for many years and we have never boycotted a single company that made a product for us cheaper because they used immigrant labor. Shouldn’t we give them citizenship should they desire it? At the very least we should make it legal for them to be here and decriminalize a population of hardworking people that aren’t criminals to begin with.

 

This is our mess. We need to take responsibility for it, and fix it, without blaming the pawns in our little blame game.

 

 

Arizona in the spotlight

The Ariziona Republic, an Arizona news outlet purporting to be, “Arizona’s Homepage” recently published a news article about Immigration waning as a voter issue. This leads me to believe that as far as immigration is concerned, Arizona still has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of America.

 

According to all the news articles I read each day, I have a hard tim believing Americans have suddenly dropped the immigration issue as this article tries to convey. This really sounds like the fanciful dreaming of a wounded and severely damaged anti-immigrant platform.

 

Americans are very capable of keeping more than one topic on their minds at the same time, and I am sure that Immigration is right up there with Jobs and the Economy as one of the top 3 topics Americans are most involved with right now. With the Occupy movement recently grabbing the public attention we see their activism loosely aimed at all aspects of the economy and jobs, with particular attention given to Job creation, taxation, and wealth distribution. And with all the politicians having meetings to discuss immigration and their associated press releases, along with the Mercedez Benz fiasco, I would argue that the immigration movement has actually picked up steam in recent weeks.

 

Arizona, It’s obvious your Senators and Sheriffs like to grab headlines and carry the hard line against illegal immigrants, but what you should really be doing instead of all this political posturing, is listening more and talking less. Then you may just understand what the devil is going on in this country. Immigration issues cannot be swept under the carpet any longer. There will be a steady flow of press releases in the future, and maybe even a few more politicians and sheriffs will lose their jobs before this is over.

 

Arizona Republic, nice try pretending this issue doesn’t resonate with America. Immigration is at the core of who we are and there are a lot of people on both sides of the fence who can’t seem to agree on what to do about the PRESENT state of things. Give it up Arizona Republic. Hard lines and radical views are what got us into this mess, and will only keep us chained to this tragic situation indefinitely.

 

And by the way, how can you credit the byline to Daniel González(?) for writing this article when at the bottom of the article it states, “Republic reporter Dan Nowicki contributed to this article.” On face value it appears that you are attempting to look fair and impartial by using an hispanic name for the byline, while carrying a radical viewpoint.

Can the true message of this article get any more convoluted?

 

 

http://bit.ly/rt8QMT

We need a hero

 

As a nation, we have seen very little that inspires us to rise above our circumstance. Instead we are bombarded with the failures and foibles of a political system gone mad. Congress has really let us down. Greed has put us in a terrible state of affairs, and now that we need the governments guidance and assistance, they seem to be more determined to blame someone else and whip up a big fervor over what needs to be done. In the mean time, nothing is getting fixed. Instead of getting us out of a recession, they seem determined to keep us in one. What else could Congress do to keep us from shoring up our stressed out economy–

 

Keep bickering about the debt ceiling, stimulus packages, immigration policy and border issues.

 

Yep. That’ll do it. Not only will they not be stimulating the economy with much needed jobs and low cost services needed to keep inflation at bay, but if they argue and blame the other guy long enough, they won’t have to do anything else at all—the elections will be over and all the campaign promises will soon be forgotten or overshadowed by some new and more important issue.  There should be a new show on TV: Dancing with the Czars.

 

I personally have had enough.

 

We need a hero. NOW.

 

Fixing the border could stimulate the economy with jobs. Lots of jobs. Not only for the people getting paid to fix it, but for the suppliers of the materials and technologies, as well as for all the staff needed to monitor the border and it’s technologies, as well as the services they all need to live, work and play, like: food, clothing, housing, transportation. . .  and that’s just the border itself.

 

What about immigration?

 

Fixing our outdated laws and inefficient permit processes would provide jobs.

 

We have millions of people living and working here illegally, and we can’t track them, verify their identities, or provide them with the basic human rights we so staunchly demand for ourselves because according to our records— they don’t really exist. Nobody knows exactly how many people are here illegally. There’s a lot of guessing going on and the figures always change depending on what side of the equation you’re on.

 

The laws that keep our immigrant workforce from registering into a system that can count them, verify their identity, and provide for them can easily be amended. We just need a plan. It will also take a valiant effort to ensure the plan gets done. Databases will need to be created and connected to one another. More offices with which to register for visas and permits on a more timely and cost-effective basis will need to be built and staffed. Social security, DMV, Tax offices and many more departments will need to increase their staffs to support the sudden increase in participants and collect the fees they have not been collecting. Every non US national I have ever spoken to has told me they would gladly pay for chance to live and work here legally and without fear of prosecution.

 

All of these systems will create jobs and add revenue to our economy as well as increase our national security.

Sounds to me like fixing these two problems would go a long way to repairing the top two problems our society endures today: Lack of Jobs and an unstable economy. What we have is a potential to create a win-win situation where we will create jobs, increase state and federal funds and verify the identities of millions of people who are here illegally and in many instances are living under fabricated identities.

 

The immigrant will benefit by being able to provide for their families and live free of fear of prosecution and deportation. Just like us, for every week they don’t work, their family suffers. Unlike us, they don’t get unemployment or welfare.

 

We all win when we all begin to think about what is best for everyone instead of just what is best for ourselves, or by sticking to an invalid idea that to fix the problem we created is somehow an amnesty for a criminal society.

 

Illegal aliens are here; let’s do something about it and begin to live a better life because we dared to break free from a debilitating value system, and worked for the betterment of all involved.

 

So, which one of our presidential hopefuls will be our hero?

 

The United States Immigration Debacle, Part 5: The Conclusion

Part 5 of 5

 

There is plenty more to be said about the role that immigrants who entered our country without inspection have played in our society, but the main points I hope I established in this series are:

 

Immigrants have been here forever.

We asked the immigrants to come.

The immigration system does not meet our labor needs.

Waiting 25 years to come here is not realistic.

 

We never boycotted a company that gave us a good price and used immigrant labor.

Sending them all home now would make our broken visa system worse.

None of this is their fault.

They are not going to take over our country.

 

 

Once you stand back and take a look at the larger picture, it becomes clear that the immigration debacle is our own creation and the players in this game are only reacting in logical free market ways to work with the dysfunctional system that has not kept up with our growing labor needs.

 

Undocumented Immigrants are here, they have always been here, and they are very much a part of the intricate fabric that is the United States of America. Immigrants are not going to take over America and make it some other country as the most paranoid of us would like you to believe. Right wing extremists have been saying this since the 1700’s. and it still hasn’t happened. We are what we are because of who we are, and it is for this very reason that we have been so successful.

 

Immigrants have been coming here from every country on the planet in search of their American Dream. Whenever we have fallen and gone back on our promise of a better life to any particular immigrant population, we seem to eventually get over it and accept them into our society, but invariably at the cost of a new group of immigrant, who then become the new focus of our phobias and problems.

 

We are a nation of people who are always looking for a better price for a product or service. Brand loyalty comes in a distant second to our loyalty of the dollar, and whenever times get tough and the dollars get thin, our aggression to any perceived threat to our economic sustenance gets bolder. Immigrants, have always shouldered the brunt of our misguided anger through our well meaning, but highly ineffective immigration policies. What we tend to forget is that immigration is a function of our economy, not the cause of it.

 

We need to focus our energies on with the process of rebuilding our economy and stop vilifying on the people who came here to help. To send them all home now would add to inflation, shrink our economy and hamstring the very engines we need running smoothly to get us out of this recession.

So what do you think America?

 

 

The United States Immigration Debacle, Part 4: The Immigrants

 

In keeping with the idea of looking frankly at the United States Immigration debacle we would be remiss if we were to leave out the immigrant’s role in this whole immigration problem.

 

The United States receives a majority of it’s immigrants from south of our border with Mexico. Most of us tend to lump all latinos within the same “Mexican” label because it’s less work. We don’t have to ask where they came from, we just assume it’s Mexico. Most of the news, statistics, hate and overall attention is focused on the immigrants from Mexico, but just to set the record straight I found some information on the DHS website.

 

Estimated Illegal Immigrant Population for Top Twenty Countries of Origin

and Top Twenty States of Residence in 2009:

 

2009 %

All countries …….. 10,750,000    100

Mexico …………….   6,650,000      62

El Salvador ……….     530,000       5

Guatemala ……….     480,000        4

Honduras. . . . . . .     320,000        3

Philippines ………..    270,000        2

India ………….. ..        200,000        2

Korea ………….  ..      200,000        2

Ecuador ……………    170,000        2

Brazil …………..  …    150,000         1

China …………………..120,000         1

Other ………. …..     1,650,000       15

 

 

 

Irregardless  which country they come from, they all of them come here to make a better life for themselves and their families, in much the same way we in the United States go to college to do the same.

 

Many would-be immigrants have been told by relatives and friends that there are jobs waiting for them in the United States. Our businesses are hungry for affordable labor to produce an affordable product for the cost-conscious American consumer. Business owners and managers ask the people who work for them if they know of anyone else who wants a job. It’s always nice when someone comes with a referral, otherwise there are plenty of applications that come through the back door every week.

 

Just like all the other segments of our society, if an illegal immigrant has a job now they are fortunate. If they don’t, the chances are slim they will get one any time soon. After a month or two of looking for work and not finding it, they usually go home. Immigration is a function of supply and demand. The economy is at work at all times– good and bad.

 

Many of the immigrants from Mexico used to come and go back and forth with the crop seasons, or if they worked in industries other than agricultural, they would go back to be with family for the holidays. Because going back and forth between our two countries not as easy as just hopping on a plane, they usually stay for a few weeks or months and return to the U.S. when they need the money.

 

Our enhanced border enforcement since 9/11 with our added fences, ground sensors, drones and more, has been more problematic for this type of job migration and we are now seeing a community of undocumented immigrants that are trapped here, separated from their families and fearful that if they go home, they will not be able to return. If they also know that if they are fortunate enough to come back, the job they had will not be waiting for them and finding a new one will take a long time, maybe longer than they can wait.  Fences and security enhancements work both ways; they keep things out, and they keep things in.

 

So why do immigrants come here illegally if it is so difficult and dangerous? Lets look at what is involved in coming here, both legally and illegally.

 

There are two ways you can enter this country:

legally with a visa and passing through any U.S. inspection point.

 

Illegally, without a visa by circumnavigating official entry points.

 

Since there are a myriad of visa types & recipient classifications,

as well as different applicant ceilings for different countries, etc. I will compare the most basic and popular application: a work visa for permanent legal status. (green card)

All information provided here will be as of 2/9/12, and is for information purposes only. If you are looking for information regarding yourself or someone you know I recommend you speak to an attorney who specializes in immigration law.

 

Legally would require:

filling out the paperwork for an immigrant visa and submitting it to a U.S. Consulate in Mexico and pay your $400 fee.  Then you wait for an appointment for an interview in Cuidad Juarez where the data is checked and your status determined. As of this writing the applications submitted through July 15 1987 are being processed for interviews. (1987. That’s not a typo.)  Click Here to see the wait list today. When you receive your interview date you need to have a biomedical scan to check for communicable diseases and assist in identification $226 Dollars covering the medical examination ($178 for minors under age 15) Then you go to your appointment in Cuidad Juarez on your appointed interview date. If your application is approved you can pick up your immigrant visa at a DHL office, and you may enter the U.S. Your non-resident immigration visa will be mailed to your U.S. address usually within 3 months and you will have six months after entering to apply for your status to be changed to permanent legal resident. (green card) There is a lottery where 50,000 people are drawn at random and given the opportunity to apply for a green card. It is random. It may take several years.

 

Illegally would require you to: try to evade border security, which since September 11, has been beefed up quite a bit. There are fences, ground sensors, mobile immigration officers, drones, and more. Often you will pay a Coyote @$3000 or more to help you get across the border, and your success is by no means guaranteed. You may have to jump fences, swim rivers, use a tunnel, travel some pretty deadly country.

 

You may even have to brave the elements as this trip could take you many days and people have been known to die of exposure from extreme heat or cold.

 

You would have to bring enough supplies with you to survive the ordeal, but not so much that it would hamper your progress or make the journey impossible.

 

After you get here you must purchase counterfeit documents to get employment. Most business owners/managers ask for this and many of them check to see if they are valid. Expect to pay $150 – $300 or more depending on who is making them, if they know you or a relative, if they are busy, and who knows what else.

 

Then you have to find a place to live until you can save up enough money until you are able to share the rent.

 

Don’t forget about clothes, deodorant, etc. You wouldn’t have brought very much with you.

 

Finding a job for anyone is not easy right now, and this goes for immigrants as well. Many employers have had to cut back their employees as the demand for their products or services has shrunk. Add that to many employers who have always feared the repercussions of not following Federal hiring guidelines only hired people who are legally authorized to work here. Your fake documents may work for a few weeks, but when your employer receives a letter from the government stating that your documentation doesn’t match what they have on record, you are on the road again and looking for work. You will do this until you find an employer who doesn’t check or who doesn’t even ask, and that is if they are hiring at all. It used to be that agricultural industries would hire anyone willing to work, but with the added efforts by several anti-immigrant states, you won’t dare show up for work their because it could mean a quick trip home.

 

We should not have had to compare the two different methods in the first place, but as you see when you do look closely at the realities of life for an undocumented immigrant, with a twenty-five year waiting period just for an interview to get into the country, and who knows how many years longer to be a green card application lottery winner, it is understandable many people choose the illegal way. With our immigration system set up the way it is, we are actually making the the choice to enter the United States legally an impossible luxury they can not afford.  A sensible, intelligent person can be expected to stand in line and wait your turn for a few weeks, or months, and perhaps even a few years, but at some point the wait gets a past little inconvenient, then past really inconvenient, and for the past twenty years it has been beyond laughable.  From their perspective, this is what they are up against.

 

So now the legal way is not a real way, and the illegal way becomes the necessary way.

And if you would add into all this the eleven million people who are here illegally already, if they were to go home today and apply for a visa and get in line, like the other poor souls, taking our quota system in place right now the wait gets 18 years longer. 43 years is a long time to ask someone to wait to come here to earn a better life for yourself and your family. A 15 year old waiting 43 years will be 58 years old by the time he gets here legally. Five more years and he may have become a Green Card lottery winner, just in time for retirement. Do we really want that?

 

To wrap up the experience for an undocumented immigrant it would be safe to say it’s not something you would take lightly, or want to bring your family along either. This explains why the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are single males between the ages of 15 – 34. It is best to start your family when you are already in the U.S.

Once here you can start your new life. but the risk is still not over; it never will be. You will be looking over your shoulder for flashing red lights and have nightmares of being separated from your family, which is a distinct possibility at any time, every day.

 

That really is the whole agreement in a nutshell. They have to get here any way they can, be fortunate to land a low paying entry level job, then If they got caught, they will get sent back to their home country. If they are lucky, they could get back quickly enough to keep their job, which would allow them to keep their apartment, and if they had a family, to keep their family from being homeless, hungry and unsure of their future. If they can’t get back across, they would either be separated from their family indefinitely, or be forced to move the whole family back home where the kids might not even know the language, or anyone there. That’s a pretty high price to pay for trying to make a better life, but this was implied before they ever reach our border. This is the compact we made, each of us understanding the role we play.

 

This agreement has worked in lieu of a legal fix to the situation, which year after year after year, has become more difficult to repair. They were happy they had a better life. We were happy we had a better life. Everyone was happy, until they get caught, and then they were very unhappy. We are completely oblivious to their problems because there was always someone waiting in the wings for their job and we were never really inconvenienced all that much. That part of the agreement never affected us consumers. We just complain about how lazy they are, or how much free medical and free social services and free education they are taking advantage of while they are here illegally. I can’t really blame them myself. If I were to have the short end of the stick on this arrangement, I’d be trying to make it a little more even myself. While I’m not condoning fraud, I’m just saying you work with the hand you’re dealt in the best way you can. We all do.

 

Next week we’ll wrap this whole mess up into a nice and tidy little package so we will have a fair and balanced look at our situation, and hopefully we’ll be able to come up with some solutions that will give us the security we need, the lifestyle we desire, and an economy that will grow stronger, supply more jobs, and maybe even give the poor people from south of the border a little more to look forward to, and less to be afraid of, like not having to live under the radar and outside the law.

The United States Immigration Debacle, Part 2: The Role of Businesses

 

There has been a large group of Americans who have encouraged immigrants to come into the United States a little sooner than our foreign visa and immigration system permits: Business owners and managers, but are they criminals or victims?

 

Many businesses around the country have employed undocumented workers and paid them less, denied them benefits, and made them pay taxes, and anything else they could get away with for decades. Being illegal, you can’t really complain much can you?

 

We all knew this was going on.  All those millions of undocumented immigrants had to work for somebody, and at most times of the day in just about every town in the U.S. you will have seen a great many of them. And of course they worked cheaper than an American would — and harder.

 

They do all the heavy lifting, bending and picking, sewing, cooking, gardening, car washing . . . All the stuff we are now privileged not to have to do any more because we have a sub-class of citizen that will do it for us.

 

As business owners and managers we encouraged every undocumented worker we employed to tell their friends, cousins, aunts and uncles to come here and work for us.  This promotion of illegal behavior for the benefit of business is the reason there are so many of them here.

 

The reason owners and managers do this is quite logical: If you run a business and pay your employees the same wages a competitor pays theirs, you can offer similar services at similar prices. If all of the sudden your competition pays their employees lower wages and less benefits, then they would be able to charge less for the same service and still make the same amount of money. Your company would be in trouble when your customers found out and started contracting with the other guy, because they charge less, and we are always looking to save a buck. You would have to charge the same as your competition or go out of business, and suggesting to drop an employees wages has never been a popular course for any business manager. You will often lose your best employees that way.  Of course you could keep your prices the same and advertise that you are the Apple Computer of service companies, but that business model works for a very limited number of businesses, and many highly successful American companies export most of their production to countries with cheaper labor than can be found in the U.S., legal or otherwise!

 

So it sounds like a no-brainer; hire undocumented laborers like everyone else and stay in business, but there is one drawback to hiring undocumented workers: it is illegal. There are penalties for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. You can get fined and possibly even closed down for a period of time. Also, if the employee got picked up by any agency that bothers to check their legal status,  you could be out an employee that day, and have to make emergency arrangements for a replacement. If they can’t come back quickly, you may even have to interview and hire a new employee, which costs time and money.

 

I actually experienced something like this when I was joining the workforce. I was demoted from busboy back to dishwasher when one of the other dishwashers suddenly quit. It took several weeks before we were able to find a replacement, and get him trained. Companies lose good employees this way. I was not going to stay a dishwasher forever, nor sacrifice the additional income I received from tips.

 

The whole reason we are at this particular juncture in our country’s history is because we could not get our politicians to stop arguing long enough to fix our immigration quota system. We noticed it was not keeping up with the demand for cheap labor many decades ago, but somehow we constantly manage to stumble over our own feet.

 

The world’s demand for cheaper products has pushed a lot of production overseas where their workers get paid even less than our undocumented friends get here. Much less. Competing with them is extremely difficult, if not impossible for many businesses. The companies that are able to compete in the world marketplace have probably been outsourcing their production and even some services overseas for years. Importing cheap labor, exporting labor to cheaper countries, it’s all an issue of commerce. There is no escaping it.

 

So why don’t we change our laws to reflect the current state of affairs here at home and abroad?  Who are the people that have the power to change the laws, but have consistently kicked that can down the road a ways so someone else will have to deal with it some other time? That’s what we’ll talk about next week.