Legal immigrant workers pour into Tennessee

The unemployment rate in Tennessee is at 10%, yet businesses are applying in record numbers for immigrant employees according to an investigation by NewsChannel 5:

A NewsChannel 5 investigation found companies across the state are importing foreign workers at a time when the unemployment rate is near 10 percent.

We spent months reviewing applications Tennessee businesses sent to the federal government as part of a federal visa program called H-2B.

The use of H-2B guest workers has soared nationally, from around 15,000 visas issued in 1997, to an all time high of more than 129,000 issued in 2007. The program was designed to provide temporary workers for small businesses with jobs Americans do not want.

When businesses apply for the right to bring foreign workers into the country, they must prove that no Americans are qualified or interested in the jobs.

Our investigation revealed companies are bending the rules and even lying on federal applications.

Here in Tennessee, business owners told the federal government they could not find people willing to do horse grooming jobs that paid $15.00 an hour, golf course landscaping that paid more than $10.00 an hour and operating carnival rides at more than $7.00 an hour.

Look who gets it—-a labor union!  Yet, labor unions have been organizing for the Open Borders movement.  A chink in the armor?

“You can’t tell me that an employer can’t find somebody in this country to do the work anywhere,” said union leader Jerry Lee, president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO.

With unemployment near 10 percent in the state, Lee said it’s ridiculous to think Tennesseans would walk away from so many jobs.

So, why might businesses want cheap immigrant labor—they are compliant and desperate people.

He thinks many employers now prefer foreign workers because their legal status in this country is tied to their job, making them willing to endure poor conditions.

“They’re not going to rock the boat because they know if they get fired or they make the boss mad, they’re gone,” Lee said.

I’ve been saying for years that this cheap labor demand by business also drives the refugee program.   In addition to the desperation factor (the workers don’t complain about conditions), we are still looking for the benefits that we believe are built into laws that ‘encourage’ businesses to hire refugees over the average out-of-work American.

That reminds me, remember the incredible story from 2009 where Visa lottery winners (another legal immigration program) were bused into Shelbyville, TN to stand in line overnight in hopes of applying for in-demand meat packing jobs.

And, it sure is a good thing that the refugee program was closed in Washington County, MD, where we live, in 2007.  The unemployment rate here is at 10%.