While on a vigorous four mile walk yesterday morning (vigorous to me, approaching my eigth decade, is about 18 minutes per mile, less than that if I schedule a time trial, more than that if I get lazy or go uphill) I was drawn to some hammering and banging of a construction project, the universal magnet for old dudes. I sauntered over to observe. It was a reroofing job on a multi-unit office complex.
A crew of maybe 15 people were stripping off the old asphalt shingles and preparing for new ones. They were all, best I could tell, Hispanic, and several of them were Hispanic females. One woman was doing the hard work on the roof with the men, while a couple of others were on the ground doing less strenuous and dangerous tasks.
Lord, have mercy! I’ve never seen a woman in a roofing crew before, much less one working on the roof. The roofing business is hard labor, dangerous, and not all that highly paid. Here in the Georgia Piedmont in mid-summer, it means working when the temperature is over ninety degrees and the humidity is over ninety percent. Not many people want these jobs.
I doubt I would be far from accurate to say that you can’t get a new roof put on around here without Hispanics. You probably can’t eat fried chicken that wasn’t processed by Hispanics at the huge chicken processing plants in my area. Georgia is the leading chicken state and my area of Georgia has multiple plants. The jobs are plentiful but are dirty and tedious. Chances are that folks who hire out their grass-cutting are paying Hispanics to do the work. You probably can’t buy a wonderfully sweet Vidalia onion that wasn’t touched by a Hispanic worker on the way to your kitchen.
The Fed considers 5 percent to be “full employment.” We are under four percent. Businesses are begging for workers. Hispanics fill many of these job openings. Day laborers congregate near the two big box home supply stores. I drive by and am eyed hopefully as an employer, even if only for a few hours. Whether these are legal or illegal; documented or undocumented, green card, tourist, refugee, asylum seekers, or other classifications…I have no idea.
Our Social Security system, economic stability and growth, and overall prosperity, seems to this econ layperson, depends on immigration. We are destined to be a minority-anglo country because anglos have such a low birth rate, far under the 2.1 children per family needed just to keep the population stable. Great movements of people, my humble lay opinion, are impossible to stop if there are powerful reasons that people feel compelled to pick up and move.
The closest my church comes to addressing immigration issues is to provide a monthly food distribution. By default, I’m more-or-less in charge. I enjoy the work and observe that many recipients are Hispanic. We pay the food bank $300 each month for a large box truck full of food and give around 120 families a box of food. It is a good ministry.
I’ve never preached a sermon on immigration. I don’t see a Biblical immigration policy on which to base a sermon neither do I see either major party being the party of God and the Bible on this issue. I have, however, preached many a sermon on human needs and our call to serve Jesus by meeting human needs.
I have no idea how to fix a border crisis, immigration policy, or anything that fall within the galaxy of issues in these areas. But I do know how to provide help and assistance to those in need. I’ll stick with the latter.