Stephen Colbert Seeking to Prove Americans Won't Take Jobs Held by Illegals

Oh, there will always be those who claim to be willing to pick peaches for $50 per hour, or tar roofs for $500 a day. In fact, I once got a call from a reader who insisted that he would gladly go pick lettuce in California’s Salinas Valley --  for $1,000 per week.

Let’s stay in the real world, folks. Even if these people are sincere about being willing to do low-skilled work for high wages, they’re not thinking about making it a career. They might do this kind of job for a day or two and cash in. But they’d quit after that.

That’s not theory. That’s fact. Look at what happened in meat packing plants in the Midwest, a few years ago, after ICE agents raided the premises and hauled off hundreds of illegal immigrants. Employers were forced to offer slightly higher wages to hire replacement workers and, sure enough, some U.S. citizens did show up to take those jobs. Three weeks later, most of them had quit.

You know why? For the same reason native-born workers hadn’t taken those jobs at lower wages. They’re crappy jobs.

There are other crappy jobs out there that are done by illegal immigrants. Milking cows. Cleaning the windows on skyscrapers. Tarring roofs, especially in the summer. Sorting fruits, vegetables, and nuts in a packinghouse. Cleaning horse stalls. Don’t expect many of those jobs to be done by Americans, especially young Americans.

A couple of years ago, I made this argument to an audience of white liberals. I know they were liberals because, at one point, someone suggested opening the U.S.-Mexico border, and many of the others in the room nodded or applauded.

I told them: “It's worth mentioning that not only do illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do, but many of the jobs they're doing were once done by young people in their teens and 20s -- your sons and daughters -- who, as a generation, have shown themselves to have a terrible work ethic.”

My point was that besides better immigration laws and better enforcement, it’s time to be honest about the fact that we also need better parenting -- the sort that produces young people who know how to work and aren't afraid to break a sweat. Then employers can hire those young Americans to do the hard and dirty jobs, and they won’t have to hire illegal immigrants.

The crowd was not pleased. In discussing why the United States has a problem with illegal immigration, they had no problem heaping criticism on the federal government, Mexico, immigration laws, or employers. But they weren’t about to take their share.

Any more than their kids are about to take jobs away from illegal immigrants.