Illegal immigration has dealt a death-blow to the American working class. The days of going to a warehouse straight out of high school, making a living, retirement plans, and collective bargaining are gone. Current estimates say there are around 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. according to a 2017 article by Jens Manuel Krogstad, Jeffery S. Passel and D’vera Cohn from Pew Research Center. Although some estimates are as high as 30 million. According to the same Study, of the many countries people are moving here from, the largest is Mexico. They can come here, live freely in sanctuary cities, and not have to worry about assimilating to American culture. Guys like me and many others in the rust belt are bearing the brunt of this in our communities and the workplace.
For me, the consequences of illegal immigration were just another day on the job. I was a truck driver in special event deliveries in the western suburbs of Chicago. I did deliveries, pickups, and setups of things like tables, chairs, and sometimes tents in the city and rural Illinois. The overwhelming majority of helpers, truckers, and warehouse workers, at my company, spoke little to no English. In most cases, they would be making less than minimum wage for doing the same job that I—as a citizen—could not work for. The other advantage was they wouldn’t be getting taxes taken out of their paychecks. This gave illegal workers a systemic advantage over citizen workers.
While on my routes, I was given a managerial responsibility on the job site to make sure everything went smoothly. When a majority of my workers are Spanish-speaking it is difficult for me to accomplish the task. I found myself constantly repeating, rephrasing, and signaling my coworkers just so they know what they should be doing. A couple of them got frustrated and asked me why I have not learned Spanish. I told them, “Imagine if a bunch of Americans—in mass—came to your home country of Mexico, to your company, to your job site, and then started asking you to learn English so me and my friends could understand you.” Many of these “immigrants” have lived here for 8 years and still don’t know a lick of English. I cannot bring myself to accept that myself—or the millions of other working-class Americans—to be expected to learn a new language in order to appease people who shouldn’t be here in the first place.
It wasn’t just me complaining either. We had another two or three drivers who were English-speaking citizens who also had the same issue. We would often talk about how this happened. The thing we hated hearing the most was the argument that Americans are just too lazy to want to do these working-class jobs. We work hard in the Midwest. I used to pull 60-70 hour weeks doing hard manual labor. To hear that is not only offensive, it is downright false. In spite of illegal immigrants disproportionately affecting certain areas (Illinois, California, and Texas). In 2013 there were only 6 occupations dominated by immigrants in the U.S, according to Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler from the Center for Immigration Studies. This implies Americans are willing to do these jobs, and likely will if the immigrants left. Those Americans are me and my citizen coworkers wanting to make more than 12 dollars an hour for working in a skilled labor position.
America is changing, we are putting prices before people, economics before culture, and immigrants before citizens.
I may just be a truck driver from Chicago, but I know well enough when something is bad for me and my community. We are not asking for brutality, hate, or intolerance. All we are looking for is jobs so our families can live well, preserving our community, and preserving our history. It is high time the rest of the country remembers who we are and what we do and hears us when we annunciate that we will not be phased out.