As countless Americans struggle to find work, many can’t help but wonder — is the search all the more difficult because of competition with immigrants? The conflict may be irrelevant at times, but here appears to be an instance when the role of immigration in the workforce was forced under the spotlight. “Now Hiring Must Be Mexican,” a billboard outside a Burger King in Ephrata, Washington, recently read, as was reported by local radio station KFFM.
There are some questions about the image. Initially, KFFM wrote it wasn’t “exactly sure of the reasoning. Maybe none of the current staff can speak espanol,” the site conjectured, as was reported by the news site, Opposing Views. But an update on KFFM’s website noted a “disgruntled employee” was fired for putting up the sign. The radio station has also questioned whether the image was actually taken at the Ephrata branch, as well.
Burger King has released a statement through its Facebook page in which it made clear the worker, who has not been named, was not acting on behalf of the parent company:
“The sign in question was posted briefly last summer, without approval at a franchise-owned and operated restaurant. Please know the franchisee has informed us that the employee who posted and photographed this sign was immediately terminated as a result. The Burger King team is dedicated to diversity and inclusion.”
KFFM also polled its readers on whether they found the sign offensive. Eighty percent have said yes, as of the latest tally. The incident has also touched a nerve among Burger King fans on Facebook. And even though it appears just one employee was behind the sign, people like Susie Carol Mallard Hortman are calling for a boycott of the company on its Facebook page. “I will not be your customer ever again,” she wrote.
The immigrant card
Either way, as AOL Jobs has reported, the large school of academic research mostly holds the effect of immigrants on America’s jobs landscape to be largely negligible. As Pia Orrenius, a senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, previously explained to AOL Jobs, every 10 percent increase of foreign-born workers in a region leads to a 1 percent change in the average wages of the legal residents. And the statistic holds true for skilled workers as well, she said.
Why is that? For starters, many immigrants occupy jobs many Americans would simply rather not take. And with new arrivals doing much of the grunt work, other workers are allowed to specialize in a field, allowing them to thrive. Finally, the so-called “immigration surplus” holds that the economy must benefit from the uptick in goods and services used by the new arrivals. And so in the long run the impact on native-born workers’ wages is a “wash,” according to Orrenius.
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