*The characters in this article are fictional but all data and historical events are real.
"Dang boy, its too hot to be tryin' do that," said Royce, he winced at the beads of sweat that dripped from Jame's face. James knew it was nasty, but he had to take his shirt off to cool down and whether he was fully dressed or not the local and tourist passerbys of Ellis Park would stare at him anyway. None of the establishments throughout Savannah's City Market would let him enter for some AC, so taking his shirt off under the shade of a tree was the best he could bargain for. James placed his squeegee on the metal table and shook his head, "I gotta keep trying. I can't keep living in the streets man."
"That's that army training boy, don't ever let you give up. But I'll tell you, this heat is going to kill you," said Royce.
All morning James had been offering to clean windows for the shops all throughout Broughton Street but only one accepted and even paid him, just enough to grab lunch. It was tough for James to get a job doing anything that didn't require him to get dirty, he didn't have the wardrobe for much else. He would keep trying, it didn't matter to him, he envisioned pulling himself out of homelessness.
"Since you don't mind sweatin' you might as well get a job farmin' or something. This is Georgia you know, plenty of that 'round here," said Royce.
"Seen any farms around Savannah Royce?"
"Yeah, maybe in Richmond hill. You'll have to walk a bit, might be a bit of gamble though. You know all 'em illegals be takin' those kinds of jobs. Hopefully Donald Trump done scared them away."
James is an american hero who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but as fate would have it, hurricane Irma swept through in the Summer of 2017 while he was away on deployment and a massive southern oak crushed his home. That coupled with the fact that he was already set to transition out of the army sent his financial situation spiraling down the drain and he found him self homeless in less than a year after returning from combat. He's tried to find a job all throughout Savannah to no avail and is now willing to do anything legal to get himself out of his current situation. The discourse between James and Royce about having to compete with illegal immigrants to get a job in agriculture has been one of the political centers of contention since Donald Trump took office in 2017.
The fact of the matter is there are many illegal immigrants in the agricultural industry, but the devil is in the details, they are actually not taking away from out jobs, rather due to the fact that they are illegal and are inherently severely underpaid, they only expand the economy. What seems to be a point of contention between Employers and Employees is that "Americans won't do certain kinds of jobs" such as work as a farmhand, janitor, maid etc. This narrative has been played up so well that several government programs for "guest workers" have been developed to bring in people from over 80 countries in South America, Europe, and South Eastern Asia. Current United States immigration policy allows for the issuance of visas for a variety of temporary workers: athletes and entertainers, religious workers, intra-company transfers, treaty traders, foreign media workers, those in specialty occupations, and agricultural and seasonal workers. Among the temporary worker visa types, the most popular programs are part of the H visa family. Its three subtypes—H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B, receive the most focus in the current reform debate and together accounted for 54 percent of all visas issued for temporary workers in 2012.
*Center for immigration Studies ‘Why Not a Domestic Guestworker Program?’ by Preston Huennekens https://cis.org/Huennekens/Why-Not-Domestic-Guestworker-Program
Though these programs require employers to first seek out local American employees, most employers whom end up utilizing such programs find themselves in a market that geographically lacks sufficient people to get the job done. That tends to bolster the idea that Immigrants do the jobs that Americans won't. The Center for Immigration Studies in Washington DC decided to test that common misconception and discovered that, in fact, there are many people like James who would be willing to do these kinds of jobs but aren't in the right location to accept those local job postings let alone transport themselves to work. Currently, in order to utilize one of the guest worker programs employers must pay for inbound and outbound transportation, provide housing, provide meals, and guarantee the guest worker up to 75% of the days he is contracted to work would be paid days. An astonishing amount of Employers utilize these programs. The figure below describes how many guest worker visas were issued in 2012.
Now Imagine if we could employ 10,000 people like James throughout America who are willing to work but either don't know there is a demand for people like him or simply can't pay for transportation or housing to continue going to work once there. A domestic guest worker program could help ex-convicts, former addicts, homeless, struggling veterans, young single parents, and recent graduates of high school and college who are unemployed find jobs in communities where they are needed and could start a fresh meaningful new life. The same stipulations would exist, employers would pay for inbound/outbound expenses, provide housing, meals, and guarantee work hours and wages to employ fellow Americans who would spend the money they make in America as opposed to sending it back home to their families in an other country.
If this is something that interests you refer to the links below to learn more. I believe this is more a question of efficiency as opposed to politics and we can work on creating domestic guest worker programs in our communities to not only grow our businesses but to give people like James the opportunity to change their destinies.
US Citizenship and Immigration services- https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-2a-temporary-agricultural-workers
Wage and Hour Division https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs26.htm
Center for immigration Studies ‘Why Not a Domestic Guestworker Program?’ by Preston Huennekens https://cis.org/Huennekens/Why-Not-Domestic-Guestworker-Program