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   GUEST OPINION

 Illegal Immigration in Mississippi
Is Taking Jobs from Citizens

 By Rodney A. Hunt - Special to GCN

            The United States needs a reasonable and fair immigration policy, fair not only to prospective immigrants but also to American citizens.  Approximately 3,000,000 illegal and 1,000,000 legal immigrants crossed our borders this year.  The wages of working class Americans have become stagnant in the past several years due to the vast increase in immigrant labor.  Of the first 1.3 million jobs that were created this past year, 28% went to immigrants, both legal and illegal. 

            While illegal immigration and guest worker programs are now affecting Mississippi, our state and local leaders are not engaged in their duty to protect our citizens.  Illegal immigration and guest worker programs affect the unskilled and working class, while outsourcing and H-1B and L-1 visa programs affect the middle class.  The short term winners are the business owners who utilize foreign workers to expand profit margins for personal gain and the shortsighted consumers who are inadvertently mortgaging their children’s future.  Mississippians need to examine their hiring and purchasing policies to find out if they are guilty of falling into one of these groups.

            In the past several months, I or friends have noticed foreign workers in the following jobs:

1.        Home construction/carpenters/painters

2.        Tile workers

3.        Brick layers

4.        Foundation preparation for new homes

5.        Foundation repair of existing homes

6.        Roofers-Madison, Brandon, North MS

7.        Tractor mechanics/equipment operators in Richland

8.        Laying cable for cable TV company

9.        Mall construction projects on Lakeland

10.     Installing sprinkler systems

11.     Kitchen & restaurant workers

12.     Construction workers- a local, privately-funded nonprofit hospital

13.     Commercial and residential landscape maintenance

14.     Picking up debris on highways or right of ways- state or federal money

15.     Construction of mini-storage facility

16.     Construction of highways and bridges around Jackson

17.     Landscape maintenance at a publicly-funded university

18.     Construction workers- a taxpayer-funded teaching hospital

            Are these “jobs that Americans won’t do”?  Why shouldn’t these jobs be filled by Mississippians? There is dignity in work and self-sufficiency.  The function of government is to protect our citizens.

            Estimates of the illegal alien population in Mississippi are now between 90,000 and 100,000.  Remarkably, the MS Employment Security Commission does not have figures on the number of legal foreign workers in the state that are on guest worker programs.  Employers are using legal and illegal immigrant labor to limit and control the wages, benefits and working conditions to the detriment of our citizens.

            This is especially significant since a large segment of our population depends on government programs.  Currently in Mississippi, 88,000 people are unemployed with a legal work force of 500,000.  There are approximately 760,000 people on Medicaid and 460,000 living below the federal poverty level.  Mississippi has lost a net 40,000 jobs between 1993 and 2003. Why do we allow employers to use foreign workers when our citizens are unemployed and on welfare?

            Although immigration policy is established on the federal level, there are measures that can be taken on the state and local level to protect our citizens if our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and state legislators will follow the examples of Alabama, Arizona, and Colorado.

            Our goal should be American jobs for American workers since the stability of the middle class and the working class determines the long term security of our state and nation.


About the Author:

Rodney A. Hunt is a D.D.S.-oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Jackson who has sought to inform public officials about the rapidly growing immigration issue in Mississippi and its affects on citizens.

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