Why Second Class Status Won’t Suffice

A story that is ongoing right now is a stark example of why the Republican party’s alternative immigration reform plan, which would codify a permanent underclass of non-citizens, is a terrible idea.

Guest workers at a Pennsylvania McDonald’s have gone on strike, and the description they’ve provided of their working conditions right here in America are horrific.

The workers are striking over what they charge are rampant abuses at their stores in Harrisburg and nearby Lemoyne and Camp Hill. According to NGA, the visiting students each paid $3,000 or more for the chance to come and work, and were promised full-time employment; most received only a handful of hours a week, while others worked shifts as long as twenty-five hours straight, without being paid overtime. “Their employer is also their landlord,” said Soni. “They’re earning sub-minimum wages, and then paying it back in rent” to share a room with up to seven co-workers. “Their weekly net pay is actually sometimes brought as low as zero.”

“We are living in [a] basement,” said Rios, “cramped together, with no divisions, in bunkbeds which are meant for children.”

“We suffered some humiliating moments” he added. “Managers would mock us or make fun of us because we were making mistakes at the beginning.” While they had been promised transportation to work, he charged, instead “we have to walk along the highway, and cars pass us by very closely, and on several occasions we were almost hit by cars.”

According to local reports, some of the guest workers were also locked out of the cramped home they were staying in, while others are preparing to leave the country.

The vague terms immigration reform is often discussed in do not pay proper respect to the very real inhumane treatment of immigrant workers. And declaring, from the relative privilege and comfort that you live in, that you’re going to finally do something about winning the hearts and minds of minority voters by passing piecemeal immigration reform likely provides very little comfort.

We should all keep in mind when ordering 20 McNuggets for only $4.99 that the low cost comes with a criminally-high human price.

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  • bphoon

    You can find examples of this just about anywhere. It’s shocking, despicable behavior on the part of unscrupulous employers.