Like any homeowner who has lived in Colorado for a long time, I have experienced roof replacements due to a hail storm more than once, and have observed that the roofing industry, like many construction trades, is particularly dependent on Mexicans and other Hispanics for their work force.
So I’ve been wondering how the President’s unrelenting (and increasing) crackdown on immigration from Central American countries has been affecting construction trades, including roofing.
Fortunately, my last big hail storm requiring roof replacement was in May 2017, before the crackdown on such immigrants had matured into what we are seeing today.
Googling the topic and surveying the many roofing companies with which I’ve dealt over the years, I find that what I suspected is indeed the case. Roughly 20% of that industry’s work force has been lost directly or indirectly. It makes me wonder how we will fare in the event of another widespread hail disaster.
The problem is that few non-immigrants jump at the offer of earning minimum or higher wages climbing on roofs in the hot sun and doing the back-breaking work of removing and replacing a roof. The same is true in the farming industry where migrant labor has been essential to getting seasonal work done.
I remember Elliot Eisenberg, the “Bowtie Economist,” telling Realtors at a 2017 event that immigration is essential to growing the economy, and that we need at least 1 million immigrants every year to achieve the kind of growth which President Trump was promising. (He also pointed out that cutting taxes while the economy is doing as well as it was in 2017 was not smart and could only have a short-lived effect, which is now evident.)
I was reminded of all this on Sunday night, watching a 60 Minutes segment on the Japanese economy hurting because of its historic limitation on immigration in addition to its declining birth rate.
Immigration is good, and it’s necessary to maintain and grow our economy. The effect of restricting immigration and terrorizing immigrants by raiding businesses with immigrant work forces ends up hurting us all.
According to one website I Googled,
> A U.S. Department of Labor study prepared by the Bush Administration noted that the perception that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is “the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought” because it is based on the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy.
> Experts note that immigrants are blamed for unemployment because Americans can see the jobs immigrants fill but not the jobs they create through productivity, capital formation and demand for goods and services.
> Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare. Without their contributions to the public treasury, the economy would suffer enormous losses.
Personally, I think we should welcome, not shun, immigrants.