5@5 - Why diversity matters in a restaurant kitchen
November 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Bill Smith has been the chef at Crook's Corner, a restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for nearly two decades.  In 2011, Crook's Corner was honored with The James Beard Foundation's America's Classic Award - a distinction for locally owned restaurants "beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community," according to the Foundation.

In addition to his cookbook Seasoned in the South, Smith often writes on the topic of immigrants in the professional kitchen - including recipes inspired by staff and his own travel journals from Mexico.

"In a restaurant kitchen, chances are good that your dishwasher won’t speak English as a first language. There are lots of reasons for this," says Smith.

"For starts, you can wash dishes in any language so a lack of English needn’t be a hindrance to the new arrival. I’ve been a chef for over twenty years. Here are five things to be said in favor of continuing this custom, offered in a time when people are being very snippy about these very nice people."

1. The work ethic of the new immigrant is the stuff of legend.
"I’ve never had a Mexican leave to go back home without coming up to me, shaking my hand and saying 'Thank you for the work.' They look you in the eye and they mean it. I’m tearing up writing this."

2. You get exposed to lots of great new stuff.
"Like language. A friend from Madrid once told me that in Spanish I sound like Ice T. I couldn’t have done this alone. The list of new foods stretches as far as your courage will allow. And I can’t imagine a day going by without the music of Don Omar, Prince Royce or Aventura."

3. You help children.
"Sometimes they are here with their parents, but like as not, they are back home. Where doesn’t matter really. The impact of even a low American wage on the lives of a family in the mountains of Oaxaca is huge. Some will say that these wages ought to be going to parents of American children. Perhaps, but the impact of a low American wage on the lives of a family here is quite the opposite. This is complicated."

4. Barriers come down.
"No matter how hard you resist, you will eventually be seduced by the valiant determination these people exhibit day by day. This is good because tribes are bad. We’re all in the same boat now."

5. Unless you are throwing in the towel on our future they are not really taking American jobs.
"Think about it. Do we really want our newly unemployed teachers and state government workers to start new careers cleaning hotel rooms and plucking chickens at minimum wage and without benefits? Take a minute before you answer."

And for Mexico's influence on Smith's cooking:

Sweet Potato Tamales
Makes about 60 fat finger-sized tamales


  • 1 package dried corn husks for tamales
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 8 cups corn flour (I prefer the Maseca brand that is milled for tortillas and tamales)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 2/3 cups lard at room temperature
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, washed well, peeled, and cut into a quarter-inch dice
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and diced

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the corn husks in warm water and weight them down with plates. Soaking makes them more pliable. Invariably some will be unusable, but one package is generally enough for this recipe. Set up your steamer, but keep the basket on your work table.
  2. Warm the chicken stock in a sauce pan. It doesn't need to be boiling hot. Put the Maseca and all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn on low to mix. Increase the speed a little, then begin to feed in the lard in small bits until it is thoroughly incorporated into the corn flour. It will resemble the beginnings of pie crust.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, feed in half of the stock. Then carefully feed in the sweet potatoes and jalapenos. Add the last of the stock. Mix a minute more. The dough should be moist but should cling to itself instead of your fingers. If it seems to wet add a little more Maseca. If it seems dry ... you know.
  4. You have to eyeball each corn husk. You are looking for leaves that are at least as big as an outspread hand. Lay a leaf on the counter with the longest dimension left to right, with the pointy end on the right.
  5. Put a 3-inch-long cigar of dough in the center of the leaf, leaving an inch or so of leaf at the pointed end.
  6. Fold the point over the dough, then roll the leaf around the dough.
  7. Fold the fat end back over the tamale and lay it flap side down in the steamer basket.
  8. Fill the basket as full as you can with tamales. It can't be too crowded.
  9. When the basket is full, steam at full boil for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. The tamales will be firm, but still a tad squishy.
  10. Let them rest for about 15 minutes. Bring them to the table in their husks. I am presently serving them with a sauce of Hellmann's mayonnaise into which we have stirred sriracha sauce and chopped cilantro.

Note: You should be able to find all of the odd ingredients at Latino grocery stores. There is one on every corner down here.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Cultural Identity • Culture • Think

soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. BeckySueCakes

    As someone who has worked in a number of kitchens, I can say with certainty that the imigrants and american employees get the same pay, which isn't all that high. And guess what, the americans don't typically get benefits either! The kitchen industry welcomes the immigrants and feeds on them because there are few americans (I am one of those few), many who have degrees in the field, who are willing to work for minimum wage, and no benefits.
    Also consider that most people complain about the high cost of restaurant food, so unless you start paying more for your food, those employees aren't going to get anything more. So until you are willing to change, the restaurant industry won't.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Jessica

    I think that something to be pointed out is that when calling an article "diversity in the kitchen" you shouldn't go straight into then saying "and my kitchen is filled with underpaid Mexicans." That's not diversity! It may be employing a minority, but when I think of diversity, I think of more than one nationality... so this made no sense.

    Furthermore, to me as a human being and not just a Mexican or American (in fact my own ethnic makeup is more diverse than this kitchen...) it's one thing to give work to someone who appreciates it and really needs it, and I do believe in that 100%, but to say that paying lower wages to these people you appreciate so much is acceptable contradicts even saying you appreciate them in the first place. Who cares what the cost of living is where they're from? They live here now, and what conditions are they living under in order to work for these miniscule wages and still have something to send back home?

    And while the fact that this restaurant owner even appreciates his underpaid labor gives him more credibility than most others, it's still a really long way before most owners have that mentality. So basically, I'm just bothered by this guy just putting it out there that it is ok to do... because many restaurant owners underpay and underappreciate the laborers doing everything at the bottom.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  3. thinkaboutit

    The fifth point is most insighful. It is very possible that as soon as an individual on welfare would accept such a job, the first thing that would happen is that they would lose their childcare... not their children - the payments to the babysitter(s) for their care while the person works. I would doubt that few could afford such a decision. (Wondering why my comment of yesterday – in this same vane – was not posted.. possibly mis-read by the staff??, which causes now the clarification))

    November 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  4. gREG

    If he loves them so much: why not pay them an American wage and not and immigrant wage? I moved here from Ohio
    and NC doesn't want to give my wife a drivers license because her middle name is not on her Ohio license, but NC doesn't
    require any documentation from illegals getting a NC license ( the gov. encourages low wages for the business elite.)
    Maybe the INS should visit his business and inquire on the legality of his workers. I know I won't be visiting his establishment.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Mario

      Immigrant wage? You mean the Feds have MINIMUM wage and then IMMIGRANT wage? Holy cow – what's the amount? I'm just curious as to the level of ignorance you have?

      November 30, 2011 at 10:09 am |
      • Dani A.

        LOL!!!! Wow......Epic reply, Mario. Thank you for pointing out such outright ignorance!!!! "Immigrant Wage" should be the right term, actually.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  5. CynicalOne

    " 'Think about it. Do we really want our newly unemployed teachers and state government workers to start new careers cleaning hotel rooms and plucking chickens at minimum wage and without benefits? . . .' "
    Yes, that would be better than then starving in the street as some of them are literally doing right now.
    And yes, they could be paid a bit more than minimum wage and the business could turn a significant profit.

    If your business model requires paying minimum wage (or less) with no benefits, we don't want you doing business in our country.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Pat

      How many unemployed teachers (or any other unemployed citizens) do you know who would do this work? Even McDonalds has trouble finding people willing to make burgers and fries. And I can assure you that you do not speak for all when you say we don't want businesses that pay minimum wage and offer no benefits. If minimum wage is too low it should be raised, but employers do not decide what that amount is. And all people do not need benefits. Teens and spouses covered under another's health plan do not.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:27 am |
      • CynicalOne

        I did this work for over 22 years. I loved feeding my fellow humans. I loved creating food. Now I have no job. when I inquire in kitchens they tell me one of two things:
        1- No Americans
        2- You been making decent money in the I.T. industry for over ten years now. I'm afraid that if I hire you, you'll just jump ship as soon as a better paying I.T. job comes along.

        I know two others that are younger and willing to start at the bottom but aren't being seriously considered for jobs in the restaurant industry.

        So don't hand me some crap about these are jobs that Americans won't do. I literally LOVE to cook. But I do need far more than $5 an hour to live in America.

        November 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
      • CynicalOne

        McDonalds is not having trouble hiring workers. Have you not seen the youtube videos of semi riots breaking out and super long lines at their hiring events?

        You need to get out more!

        November 30, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  6. Willie12345

    Legal immigrants are great. It's the illegals that need to go back home and do so very soon.

    November 30, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Sandy

      The truth is: restaurants can't afford to pay American workers. Restaurants can only survive paying immigrants who appreciate the work.
      It is a shame that our citizens don't get the jobs. Are they willing to work for less?

      November 30, 2011 at 9:19 am |
      • CynicalOne

        NOT true. I worked my way from dishwasher to chef over 22 years in various restaurants around the country and never made anywhere near as much money as a restaurant owner. Restaurants can afford to pay their workers much more, they just choose not to.

        November 30, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Pat

      Illegal criminals yes, but not all. The US is starving for more tax revenue. Find a way for these people to work legally and contribute to society instead of being a burden on it when the need for social services arises. They get hurt and go to the emergency room and will still be treated. You know who pays for that? We all do through our taxes.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:21 am |
      • Gojoh Mailee

        What's more, illegals contribute money to social security

        So they bring income to the feds, even if they burden state governments

        December 7, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  7. goohhg

    Does anyone want to come do my dishes, i'll give 10/hr

    November 30, 2011 at 6:43 am |
    • CynicalOne

      Yes, where are you?

      November 30, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  8. lolla

    If only all US Citizens knows their history maybe they can understand and be more compasionate with their fellow humans. We all know that NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS were the true Americans--Then came the IMMIGRANTS FROM EUROPE. They came to THE NEW WORLD CALLED AMERICA. THEY CAME BY BOATS-AND MOST OF THEM DON'T EVEN HAVE PAPER WORKS. CALIFORNIA USED TO BE PART OF MEXICO SO MEXICANS WERE IN CALIFORNIA LONG BEFORE THE ANGLOS OR WHITES DID. I don't encourage illegal immigrants but since they are already here maybe we should just give them a chance to become "legal". They are very willing to pay back taxes and fees and with millions of them we CAN PROBABLY RESOLVE THE ECONOMIC CRISIS.

    November 30, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • AKknight

      Lolla.....my Grandparents immigrated from Germany before WWI.....through Houston, and had land in CO prior to leaving Germany. They met the requirements to become citizens...raised their right hands and swore an oath, and then mt GrandFather did something interesting. When WWII started he had 3 sons..and asked them all NOT to go fight Germans....but remained loyal to the US. Now we have an estimated 11 million people who knew laws and bypassedd them to enter the US....most qwork without paying taxes....and all had the same opportunity my Grandparents did..and chose not to follow the guidelines. If you research..you'll find an amazing number of Muslims entering the US by legal means...and.....those from Mexico can do likewise...but often choose not to, and then turn around and send a good portion of their wages ouotside the country...to support family...and possibly to fund their illegal passage into the country. I am in favor of making it possible for them to have a guest worker card...pay taxes..and have a period of time to gain legal citizenship....and I am NOT in favor of rounding them up and deporting them....but please...drop the notion that we are all immigrants or from immigrants...and therefore like these people in any way other than the most basic ways. They choose to break known laws..and then piss and moan about.....status?

      November 30, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  9. Traci

    If you don't want Americans working in America for minimum wage without benefits, why should Mexicans? If Americans can't support themselves with your jobs, how do you think people who don't speak English can support themselves or send money to their families to improve their lives? You don't care do you? You think they should be grateful to you. You have a slave owner mentality.

    November 30, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • JOH

      He used that as an example idiot. The point was that many Americans are cursing off illegals and even legal immigrants for stealing American jobs. That's just not true. I will rarely see an average American work as a contractor for like 5 bucks an hour. You will never see Americans hold such bad labor jobs like many Mexicans with no complaints and getting paid squat. And many of these people were literally forced to come here due to drug cartel wars that is pretty much funded by US dollars due to American consumers. Especially when there are no jobs where these guys live, it's only natural to migrate and find job elsewhere. It's exactly what you would do. People forget that. If you were in the same situation as they are, you wouldn't be so quick to judge.

      Also, the REAL people stealing American jobs are the wealthy investors of corporations that manage investments of over $15 million. If any of these people plan on short-selling, "fear" sell due to drastic news about Greek banks or w.e. other million economic problems we have, that's about at an estimate of 60,000 to 300,000 jobs. It's Americans with no accountability and only fueled with selfishness that kills jobs. Not your illegal immigrants. And many legal immigrants in America tend to do MUCH better than your average middle-class American kid. Of course, this isn't written in stone as there are exceptional, ambitious, and motivated American students and workers. But the vast majority of Americans are lazy and obsessed with convenience. We all know this. We say we are open minded and welcoming. In truth, we live in a bubble and know very little about the world. Disrespect to foreign buyers and due to the immaturity of American CEO's, the jobs you claim are being stolen by illegals are eliminated. All to satisfy the investors' pleas. Greedy Americans. We all want money so we can get a new car, to get a nice decent steady meal for the family, to buy a home for your family, etc etc. I hear so many Americans complain about Wall Street or bad people, then turn around and say "F*** other people. I'm out for myself and myself only." That's the same type of mentality the CEO's in Wall Street have when disbanding and downgrading their corporations firing tens of thousands in one day. No accountability, only selfishness. People talk about human ingenuity but this isn't some Disney movie where everything is going to be A OK. There's more bad than good in this world. We should be united with the ever-more growing problems ALL nations face... but we turn our backs on one another to back-stab, kiss butt, money grabbing, materialism, etc. There's the true destruction of our country. Your own greed and selfishness, not illegals. Illegals are here to find jobs and send money back to their starving or suffering family so they may have a future. No matter how much ruin it will bring me, I would never interfere with these people trying to earn a "decent" wage that the people of this country will barely even take.

      But then again, you probably have never been under intense pressure as these guys. When life is easy for you, it's easy to be indifferent. When push comes to shove, Americans can't capitalize.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • CynicalOne

      Great point Tracy.

      I worked in restaurants around the country for over 20 years. He's NOT using a hypothetical example. Restaurants and hotels and food processing plants routinely hire illegal aliens (even still today) and pay them LESS THAN minimum wage.
      Even though I loved to create great food and serve my fellow humans this way. I 'm not in the restaurant business any more because of the competition from illegals.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  10. the ICE man cometh

    The article caption readsIMMIGRANTS not illegal immigrants. Get that that straight chef or get to jail

    November 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • mike

      Welcome to CNN. They just do not get it.

      November 30, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  11. Sandra G.

    I have a hard time believing if I talked to owners of restaurants in China or Japan, the owners will talk of the importance of "diversity".

    November 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  12. Stanislas

    What he's really saying is 'I love immigrant workers because they work cheap, especially illegals who work VERY cheap.'

    November 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Dan

      Exactly,,,,and the illegal ones are reluctant to go to the authorities when he screws them over.

      November 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  13. gabe325

    everyone here just talks all this smack about illegal immigrants but this is country was FOUNDED on everything that is illegal now!! and now we want to make a big thing on illegal immigration?? a lot of what is taught in US schools sonly what they want you to know... how about teaching and showing a map of every indian tribe and territory that was spread out thru this country before we came here and killed them all and now we have the audacity to say that this is our land!! come on!! all BS!!! we are the biggest hypocrites in calling this country america when america is the entire continent!!! i hate it when americans say america!!! why not say the U.S??? we tend to forget america is also canada, mexico, and the rest of the latin americas!!! the problem is we think were so above everyone that in reality the rest of the world is catching up!! just look at the us dollars.. In another 5 years it won't even be the world currency. we need to get our heads out of our asses and think straight!!!! if anyone has anything to bitch about is the native americans who's land this really belongs to... oh i forgot, we killed them while we took over this land.... give me a F___ing break!!!

    November 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  14. cb

    I've worked in several restaurants, and the number of illegal immigrants who find work in these establishments is baffling. I can't stand the notion that 'Immigrants do the work that whites won't do.' If there weren't illegal immigrants getting these positions, getting paid MUCH less than minimum wage, then job openings would skyrocket.

    Save your 'closed minded conservative' arguments, I'm a registered democrat.

    November 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  15. kay

    I often scan the comments from readers, hoping that there will be compassionate, halfway intelligent comments, but there are few. I really have trouble understanding why CNN encourages/allows this fear mongering and prejudice to have a forum on what would seem a legitimate news site. I think the forums greatly cheapen the site and undermine the hard work that the reporters and columnists do.

    November 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • cb

      you have trouble understanding why CNN allows free speech?

      November 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • RachelM

      No, cb, Kay is saying that she doesn't understand why CNN allows commenting on the news on their website since it seems to mostly attract trolls and bigots. Shutting off commenting doesn't shut off free speech. You and everyone else reading this is quite free to set up a blog somewhere on the 'net and write commentary about the news on CNN there.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  16. Anon

    No we want those jobs for our teenage kids who need to learn a work ethic, students who need part time work and for the people who are not smart enough to be teachers, chefs or other skilled labor jobs. I don't have a problem with immigrants, just ILLEGAL immigrants. Some areas like agriculture do have a shortage of workers but what we need is to setup a seasonal worker visa program that works, not justify illegal immigration.

    November 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  17. g.r.r.

    What a load. The guy is hiring illegals and now trying to justify it. He should have the courage to say that he is hiring illegals. Instead, if he wants to hire IMMIGRANTS, then it should be legal ones, not illegals. The legals have jumped through hoops to get here. The illegals, just cheat.

    November 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Nomad

      If you have proof turn him in. If you don't have proof just let it ride my man. let it ride.

      November 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  18. RVC

    As a teacher of immigrant children, I would like to tell everyone what my children get for free.
    1)free breakfast
    2)free lunch
    3)free after school
    4) free dinner
    5) free medical care
    6) free school supplies
    7) free transportation to school
    8) If they make it to college, I'm sure that will be free as well.

    I could go on and on with the list of free things.

    The bottom line is everything is free.

    Me? I travel an hour and a half each way to my job so I can get my health insurance and salary. I pay for my food. I am waiting to have kids because I know I am not getting childcare or anything for free.

    Compassion for illegal immigrants?
    How about compassion for hard working people that are tired for paying for everyone else?

    November 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • pinguino

      Hopefully you don't "have enough" one day and hurt one of those kids on account of being bitter..maybe teaching "foreign" kids shouldn't be your thing

      November 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Nomad

      Agree 100%. Get legal or get out.

      November 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • BJG

      What state are you in that offers all this for illegal immigrants? Free medical care? Unless you are talking about emergency care with no followup (which is not the same as going to a physician), I haven't seen it here; I serve on the board of a free clinic (privately funded and staffed by volunteers) which provides care to all and people pay what they can, and we have seen people with serious conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) who have no other access to medical care than this charity care (usually cannot afford the drugs needed for treatement). Illegal immigrants are not eligible for medicaid or other state/federal funded medical help.

      Likewise, free meals and school supplies? Paid for by what entity? Not the government, unless everyone gets free meals. Again, illegal aliens are generally not eligible for government benefits, so unless your state is somehow enlightened, I seriously doubt it.

      Yes, they can attend school, and yes, they can get the same transportation aid as other similarly situated persons, but I seriously doubt they get the other benefits.

      Now, of course, if you are talking about US citizens who are the children of illegal immigrants, then this may well be different, but then they get no more than other smiliarly situated citizens get.

      November 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  19. woodrow

    If you can't find an American to fill the position, then you can pay to have an immigrant stay here and work.There is a 50% unemployment rate in the demographic you claim needs illegal immigrants.

    November 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  20. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Once again CNN and the rest of its media cohorts try to blur the clear distinction between "immigrants" and "illegal aliens" (aka criminals, aka undocumented democrats). Every day I look at the CNN website I see an article which either directly or indirectly tries to drum up sympathy for illegals. Just to be clear......"IMMIGRANTS" AND "ILLEGAL ALIENS" ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!!! Intelligent people realize this, but unfortunately intelligant people are getting to be a minority in this country.

    November 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • ALE

      They are the same thing. Except for Native Americans, we are all immigrants and we are all illegal

      November 30, 2011 at 1:59 am |
      • KanneM

        There are no "native" Americans. There are no peoples indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. We're all immigrants, like it or not. Only the time-frame and means of travel vary, with regard to our arrival.

        November 30, 2011 at 4:47 am |
      • Kana

        In order to be illegal you would have to violate the law. The United States of America has been a sovereign nation for the past 200+ years. For most of that time we have had laws that apply to immigration. To say we are all illegal is unfounded and ridiculous.
        Those that enter the U.S. without the proper documentation and don't take the necessary steps to correct that are considered ILLEGAL aliens, as they are violating the laws of the U.S.
        If an illegal alien is working with out the proper documentation than they are violating additional laws of the U.S..
        Those businesses that hire illegal aliens are also violating U.S. laws.
        All in all illegal aliens and those businesses that hire them are hurting the U.S. economy.

        November 30, 2011 at 7:16 am |
      • Art

        The first Americans were immigrants for one. Secondly, can you mention exactly which immigration laws my ancestors broke when they came here legally in the 19th century?

        November 30, 2011 at 8:36 am |
      • Turth-Bomb Thrower

        That is one of the most moronic statements I've ever read on here. My ancestors broke no laws coming to this country. If you really think there is no difference between "immigrants" who abided by the rules and "illegal aliens" (aka CRIMINALS!) than you need to go back to elementary school and take a basic civics course. Knowing there are voters out there as ignorant and unintelligent as you scares the hell out of me.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  21. pinguino

    It's all crying and complaining until those of you who take it to the racist level need someone like this to save your child's life:
    "(I thought) 'What am I doing here. Why did I do this.' I didn't have much in Mexico, but at least I had my family, my friends," he said.

    But Quinones-Hinojosa doesn't work on a farm anymore. Nineteen years after he jumped a fence into San Diego with a few dollars and no English skills, he is now one of the best brain surgeons at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
    There are a lot of people like him who are washing dishes and picking vegetables who are humble about it but yet are a lot more intelligent than most of us and just waiting for their chance

    November 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • pinguino

      oh and by the way......

      Dr. Q became an American citizen in 1997. He lives in Bel Air with his wife and three children.
      -– he must have taken the job of Steve Johnson, who had to settle for customer service supervisor at cablevision instead of brain surgeon...damn immigrants!!!
      Read more: http://www.wbaltv.com/family/11177318/detail.html#ixzz1f8P7KNPv

      November 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
      • Kana

        The key difference is that Dr. Q took the necessary steps to became a LEGAL citizen unlike the many millions of ILLEGAL aliens that have entered the U.S. and have lived here for decades with out making any effort to assimilate.
        The problem is not immigration, the problem is ILLEGAL immigration and those taking advantage of legal citizens of the United States. This applies to both the ILLEGAL alien and those that hire them as well as provide them sanctuary.

        November 30, 2011 at 7:23 am |
      • CN Red @ Kana

        Exactly. We have millions of Mexicans in this country that have been here for years and have not make a single effort to become US citizens. They want all the benefits of an American middle class life style and don't want to pay for it.

        November 30, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Sean

      Blah blah blah… For every doctor I’ll show you a fifty MS13 members fool. Feel free to point out how that FACT is racist.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
      • Sean

        p.s. CNN please give us an edit button. Please and thank you.

        November 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
      • pinguino

        And for every 50 MS members there are 500 honest hard working people willing to do a task you are not willing to..just the fact that it touched a nerve makes you a racist..where did your family come from SEAN? Ireland? if you had any type of concept you would know the story was similar at the turn of the century for them...I suppose the good thing about sending the Irish back would be that you wouldn't be here, don't be ignorant for the rest of your life

        November 29, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  22. Steve

    Nowhere in the article does it say that he hires ILLEGAL immigrants.
    I have a restaurant and I have hired a total of 1 illegal immigrant. They had given me a falsified SSN and license. For the lower-prestige jobs, the Americans I've encountered are too important to come back a second day or put half an effort in.

    If it weren't for immigrants, you wouldn't eat.

    November 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Sean

      Legal immigrants are Americans. Use your brain for something other than justifying your hiring habits.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
      • Nomad

        No, they are legal immigrants. U.S. citizens are americans

        November 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • kebcarerra

      Then we shouldn't eat. . Some how I was able to eat when I did the dishes and picked fruit as a young person here. It's okay to do the hard work . It's good for the soul. Just take a look at us now versus then.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  23. REH

    How about we deport Bill Smith !!!!!!

    November 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  24. William Demuth

    I remeber the empassioned arguments that touted the benifits of slavery.

    You sir are a parasite, who wants nothing more than the cheapesr labor you can find.

    You are a disgrace to my nation and your industry.

    November 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  25. 2nd Generation

    I was born in the US. My parents were born overseas and married before moving here (completely legally - btw). As a born American who is the child of immigrants, I believe my country is the most beautiful nation on earth because of the ideals of equality and liberty upon which she was founded and because of the medley of cultures brought by the smartest, hardest working, and most determined people who dared to come here to make a nation.

    When I read an article like this and see some of the comments from others, I wonder how many generations it takes before descendants of immigrants start showing xenophobic tendencies and spewing Nativist rhetoric. It saddens me because when I look around at the Great Melting Pot, it strikes me that too many of my fellow citizens do not see how the different cultures, ethnicities, and ways of thinking that come together in America is what sets us apart from other countries.

    Nevertheless, I'm still hopeful for the future. If you know your history you know that historically immigrants have often not been well-received. Over time, however, the culture and descendants of italian, polish, german, irish, and other immigrants became integral to the fabric of America, despite the immigrants themselves facing hostility not unlike what is too often on display today. America, she always seems to eventually figure out the right path, and she hasn't let me down yet.

    November 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Sean

      The problem we have is with ILLEGAL immigration and all the crimes that follow due to their illegal status. If you’ve associated yourself with illegal’s that is your personal issue.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • dragonwife1

      I have no problem whatsoever with anyone of any nationality, race, religion, etc. who comes here LEGALLY. What most people have an issue with is those who come here ILLEGALLY, pay no taxes and contribute nothing to the public treasury, and yet demand that they be given all the benefits of legal US citizens. Analogy: I own a home and pay for its upkeep, the meals I eat, and the utilities that support my living there. An intruder sneaks in through the window, makes himself at home, helps himself to my food and sleeps in my spare bedroom, and does nothing to reimburse me for any of this - and then demands that I also allow him to use my car and let him keep staying here, because he empties the trash once in a while. That's a big difference from a guest I invite to my home, who brings a gift with him and helps out around the house, and courteously pays for some of the extra groceries. I am probably one of the least prejudiced people you're likely to meet, but I'm also not a doormat. Again – come here and contribute your fair share to the costs (e.g., pay taxes) or don't bother coming.

      November 30, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  26. jeff

    Illegals should be deported, not given jobs or any benefits. What part of the word "Illegal" don't you understand? There are 55 million illegal Mexicans in our country as it is and I refuse to cede our nation to Mexico. Our schools and culture are being ruined – these people already have a country that they have wrecked – it's called Mexico – we don't need a 2nd Mexico here. Boot them al, and their extended benefit sucking families.

    November 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Paul Goddard

      the best part of this post is that in less than a decade, maybe 2...you will be the minority in this country. and all your racist verbiage will be laughed at.

      i would start learning spanish if i were you...it will make working for your new mexican overlords easier in the future.


      November 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
      • US guard

        Yes Jeff – soon we will be a minority. The way Congress treats illegals (everything for them) and us (abusive citizens). VAWA green cards . DREAM bonus to illegals. I thought illegals mean criminal. Why Congress supports criminals. And yes – we need to learn Spanish and save for bullet proof vests.

        November 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
      • john

        Yeah, and if I were you, I'd start looking over my shoulder.

        November 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • baseman018

      I think people on both sides aren't seeing the true problems. People are afraid that they are losing jobs because, employers don't have to pay a fair wage for illegal immigrants. This is an unfair disadvantage. However, if a restuarant was to hire someone and pay them a fair wage including overtime for 40+ hours, then the only reason American's wont get jobs will be because of pride and hard work. This will be good for the country because America needs hard working people making liveable wages, not complaining people who are disrestful to customers and their employers.

      November 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Michael J. Sena

      Jeff, I agree totally with you. These people do not belong here and need to be deported.

      November 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Kana

      ILLEGAL immigrants are not all Mexicans. Granted Hispanics may make up a large population but there are also large populations of ILLEGAL aliens from Ireland, China, India, and many other countries. Although some have crossed our borders ILLEGALY other have come on work, student and tourist visas and did not leave prior to or after their visa expired.

      November 30, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  27. Kevin

    I worked in restaurants for over a decade, let's not kid ourselves here... Number 6 is that immigrants work for less than Americans, and without those low wages, restaurants would have to charge higher prices. You want the illegal aliens out? Fine by me. But be prepared for massive sticker shock next time you head out to eat.

    November 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • baseman018

      That is fine by me. I would rather pay a higher price and know that someone is making a livable wage (illegal or not).

      November 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |


    November 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  29. Stan

    Why doesn't the Fed Government simply expand the number of guestworker slots? That program was set up to allow people to come in legally and do the jobs that most Americans avoid. They showed how blackberries were left to rot in the fields because of a lack of such workers.

    November 29, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  30. Dennis

    Bill Smith may get cheap labor that he is happy with, but he is really taking advantage of these people.

    November 29, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • baseman018

      I agree 100%. Everything else is simply an excuse. The main reason and the only reason is that he doesn't have to pay for a lot things and also gets an employee who will do whatever he tells them. Modern day Slavery.

      November 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  31. thinkaboutit

    All the issues notwithstanding, the fifth (last) point in tremendously insightful, and should be considered with the utmost of real honesty (not the 'honest' of our desires, but the 'honest' of our heartfelt emotions). The reader might also be aware of such conditions as 'the first thing that is cut off from a welfare recipient is their childcare'. What I'm sure must be relfective of "most cases", how many of us could truly, honestly afford such a choice?

    November 29, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  32. john

    The work ethic of the new immigrant is the stuff of legend

    This is due to self selection. Lazy people can't get off the couch much less go to a new country to find work.

    November 29, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • paul goddard

      Exactly...and sadly we Americans have collectively lost that hunger...that drive to better ourselves.

      It has been proven that Americans will no longer do those jobs for that wage. If we continue like this, we will either outsource whole sectors of the economy (very much like the textile industry), or be willing to pay 5 dollars for an orange.

      Thanks Alabama...sorry you had to lose hundreds of millions to prove out this point, but it could not have happened to a better state.

      November 29, 2011 at 9:43 am |
      • dragonwife1

        Maybe a lot of Americans won't do those jobs at those wages because it's not a living wage; it's a bare-bones subsistence wage, and perhaps not even that. If, say, you're a single parent with even one small child, do you think $7 an hour will provide decent food, clothing, and shelter for you and your child, much less the cost of day care? Hardly, when in my city (and we're by no means an expensive place to live) a decent (not surrounded by crime, not falling apart, etc.) one-bedroom apartment alone will easily run a minimum of $400/month. Day care for one child for one week runs at least $80 ($320/month). Food and staples for two people, especially with prices rising, figure around $200/month bare minimum. So already you're up to $920, and that's not including clothing, transportation, medical expenses, or any other necessities (laundry costs, etc.) – figure another $100 or so for those, minimum. At $7 an hour, working 40 hours/week (which a lot of people are lucky to get these days), your gross pay would be $1120. Take out taxes and you're lucky to be able to afford the necessities without having to juggle paying one bill this month, another the next.

        November 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
      • Paul Goddard

        i agree 7 dollars is nothing really. hard to keep up a family with that income. but thats what the job pays...and let me remind you, the republicans are looking to get rid of the federal minimum wage, in an apparent bid to let companies decide for themselves if they can go LOWER. YAY!!!!!

        but if we pay those lower income jobs more, the product price also increases. labor is the highest cost of most companies, you increase the labor cost, and *boom*, everything goes up...oranges, restaurant meals, hotel stays...imagine all the places you see illegal immigrants and that associate product / service will go up.

        regardless, we see a result of increasing labor costs in the american textile industry. you know the one sector of the american economy that is bursting at seems...hiring people like wildfire through the midwest. oh snap, what do you mean the textile industry is all offshored now???

        thats not what the republicans are saying will happen if we do this...they have been telling me one of two things will happen magically...

        1) americans will do the work...they have only been out of work because those evil illegal aliens has STOLEN their jobs. given the option of welfare or working backbreaking labor for minimum wage, they will unanimously chose backbreaking, thankless labor.(oh snap, we know this is not the case as is evidenced by the REALITY of americans not taking these jobs)


        2) corporations will gladly pay what an american thinks a job is worth without raising their prices, or they will raise their prices and americans will gladly pay more for an american product (we know this is not the case as many industries have now been offshored and are no longer done by any americans, and by Walmart...we know by Walmarts popularity that americans will chose cheap chinese merchandise vs any perceived quality that american products will add)

        but the republicans, have told us one of those will magically happen, even though history has proven otherwise...my question is, who in their right mind would disregard proven historical fact for the promises of a career politician??? it sounds absolutely crazy to be honest. we know what happens when you enact these rules on business, how are we fooled into thinking it will happen any other way than what has been proven over and over to occur?

        November 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • baseman018

      Maybe so, but instead of suggesting that Americans go work for substandard pay, why not suggest that employers pay the illegals a higher pay (i.e $10 hour) and all other benefits. Then, if they continue to hire them, then we know its beause of hard work that they are kept.

      November 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Immigrant

      Exactly. I am one. When people say all you guys are so hard working etc. I say only the hardworking have the gumption to come over here. Not that all who remained behind are lazy, but the lazy ones did not make the effort to come over for sure

      November 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  33. todd little

    yes they are thankful for that job your giving them. reason. you pay him maybe 7$ an hour. but when he gets home, to the house where there are 15 to 20 living in sleeping bags, no furniture, just a tv. do the math. your supporting illiegals. and who ever writes articles about the illegal is just out to help support them.

    November 29, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • paul goddard

      That 7 dollars an hour is the federal minimum wage...if you think Americans will take those jobs, your crazy, and flat out wrong. Before you try and debate this please read this.



      Anyways, as posted before, I hope the Alabama law stays in effect. Nothing will put a wider grin on my face than the sounds of thousands of alabamians going hungry as their restaurant/farm/hotel/fish processing plant can't function, or prices themselves out of the market due to Americans who need to make 45 dollars an hours plus benefits, and end of year bonuses to pick fruit.

      May the south rise again!!!!

      November 29, 2011 at 9:31 am |
      • Justin Thyme

        Yup, already read that. A great read and should be mendatory reading for all immigration policy makers.

        November 29, 2011 at 10:46 am |
      • Mike in NJ

        Great link, thank you. As the son of an immigrant, the opportunity here is amazing, and the attitude of this new racism is very disheartening. I hope this isn't Americans showing their true colors when our backs are up against the wall, but I fear that it is. I hope we decide to be better than that.

        November 29, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  34. Steve Ng

    Sorry, the bottom line is that they are cheaper. Maintaining an underclass to serve American's food is quite frankly immoral. Disgusting even.

    Don't kid yourself. This article is not about legal immigrants. Its about those who don't get paid full salary and benefits. And finally, ask yourself, don't we want our unemployed teachers to be, well... unemployed? Of course not. That is a rather strange argument.

    If you pretend the article is about legal immigrants, then the author is writing that people are better off on welfare than in a resturant kitchen and anyway, people on welfare are there because they are lazy. What a load of cr*p!

    November 29, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • paul goddard

      Mr. Ng,
      I apologize now for the hundreds of thousands of people who are going to read this article and wonder, "wtf was that dude talking about". Please go retake some ESL classes, obviously you skipped the day on making coherent arguments.

      November 29, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  35. Alicia

    This author could not be any more full of anti American bullcrap. Typical cnn stance. The folks he mentions where I work spend more time avoiding work than actually doing any, and I've caught one sleeping or watching tv in our lounge on more occasions than I can count. And he still barely speaks English despite being here for decades.

    November 29, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Justin Thyme

      And of course, your anecdotal evidence applies to all immigrants....

      November 29, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • CNP

      Alicia- you've OBVIOUSLY never worked in a restaurant! You have ABSOLUTELY no idea what you're talking about. Perhaps you should stop being so stereotypical and go get a job washing dishes before being so judgemental. I DO work in a restaurant and have never seen such hard work!! GET A LIFE without bigotry!

      November 29, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • paul goddard

      Hmmm...believe a story from a chef at a well known restaurant which is in direct contrast to a story from the much heralded....Alicia (random internet poster)...

      Hmmm...its going to be a tough one...lets see, who has more credibility here. I might have to resort to a coin flip on this nail biter.

      November 29, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  36. Mama Mia!

    Seriously? How can anyone advocate for illegal immigration? This guy says minimum wage jobs wont help Americans, so it's alright to give them away to illegals? There are many people I know who would gladly wash dishes, or clean hotel rooms, anything to have a job right now – when there are no good paying "american" jobs available.

    Let me flip this around. My dad worked in construction for 30 years. He was well liked and well respected in his circles for performing well above par, and well under time and budget constraints. The last 5 years of his life he was unemployed – because illegals were happy to do the work under the table for less. My dad never earned much, and money was never important to him. He took his pride from a job well done. Yet none of that mattered in the end.

    I'm sick and tired of people defending illegals saying they'll do work Americans wont do. It's a a self-deceiving lie. One meant to soothe the feelings of employers and pander to the bleeding hearts of the cubicle class. Trades used to be a place where you could do an honest days work for an honest wage, and it's been stolen from Americans by illegals who for whatever reason wont immigrate through legal channels, and it needs to stop.

    November 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Matt

      Chef Smith doesn't say anything about illegal immigration. He speaks of immigrants, not illegals. Like him, I hire kitchen help, and we require the documentation our government tells us to. I just turned away a man whose docs didn't look real enough to convince me they were. The people who show up and do the work and have appropriate ID's get the jobs. By the way, "the trades" usually means blue collar jobs, but dishwashing has never really been considered a trade. It has never paid much and never will. You can't steal something from something from someone who won't have it. You want a job at my restaurant? You can wash dishes first. Want to get a better wage? Work hard and you'll move up. That's what I did, and that's what Chef Smith did, and we're not the cubicle class either.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Hasher Iva

      What I didn't read in this article was anything about illegal immigrants. What I did read was an article about immigrants willing to work jobs at pay rates lower than expected by US persons and it make a difference in their lives. It's not a hard stretch to read between the lines and imagine these jobs are being done by illegal immigrants.

      Illegal immigrants are a fact of life. What doesn't have to be a fact of life is providing US government subsidy for ANY illegal immigrant. All I really ask is for the US gov't to ENFORCE the immigration laws they put in place. If they cannot do it on their own, let the states help them.

      November 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |
      • ALE

        THe US government has been doing that for 50 years, more so in the last 10. It does not work because the law/system is dysfunctional . We need reform from scratch. That is what the Obama and Bush administrations have set out to do: Enforce further and deport more and faster, to show that the system still does not work and needs reform. And the American people are starting to understand, finally

        November 30, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • paul goddard

      I will call your unprovable "my dad was a construction worker" story and raise you with reality.


      And that's not the only story out there on how this law is costing hundreds of millions to Alabama and its business without any real sign of benefit.

      Oddly enough, I am against government intervention here...I hope all the illegals leave Alabama for good and that backwards state further slides into the American lexicon as a poor, waste of a state who with one fell swoop proved to the world that they can destroy entire sectors of American businesses while also proving that the spirit of confederacy lives!!!

      Yee haw y'all..

      November 29, 2011 at 9:07 am |
      • Mama Mia!

        California General Contractors License: 807465

        But ya know, business week really does know everything there is to know, right?

        November 29, 2011 at 10:08 am |
      • Paul Goddard

        California General Contractors License: 7065652752

        "poof" and suddenly magically my argument is won by placing some random number in a debate forum.

        FACT is (this means regardless of your anecdotal "evidence")...there is proof that very few americans will take these jobs at those rates. period. end of story. there is no debating this...every write up points to the fact that millions are being lost in this due to lost revenue, product, work.

        regardless what your dad says, the american people have spoken and those almost 100k jobs are NOT being done right now. there are fields with rotting fruit, construction that is not being done, and millions lost in productivity. this is FACT. sorry to debate the all knowing words of your father, but it seems he is one of the few who think the way he does.

        this being said, i heard there are alot of jobs in alabama for your dad. no one else is taking them, send your dad over, it will be easy money...

        November 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
      • Mama Mia!

        Paul Goddard: "I will call your unprovable "my dad was a construction worker" story and raise you with reality."
        "'poof' and suddenly magically my argument is won by placing some random number in a debate forum."

        His contractors license is your proof. You're more than welcome to go to the CA licensing website and look him up. I'll even be nice and include the address for you: https: // www2. cslb. ca. gov/ OnlineServices /CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense. aspx – remove the spaces.

        You blithely dismiss my dad's experiences, but offer no proof of your own. Your business week editorial was nothing more than the interviews of other peoples experiences. Business owners who complain that people aren't willing to work hard hours for crappy pay – unless they're illegal. But you yourself seemed to miss the interviews with the young men at the end of the piece who are indeed willing to work the hard hours – because its work.

        Because its work my husband, a systems engineer, has worked in a rock quarry, as a chain setter, as a janitor in a hospital, as a tow truck driver because bills need to be paid, and sometimes the jobs you want aren't there. We've moved from California, to Oregon, to Florida, to Texas chasing work.

        You discredit your own countrymen and sell them short when you say it's ok for an illegal to do this job, but not an american. You discredit your own species when you say this job is good for you, because you're less important than the rest of us. You're the type of person who would happily go back to the days of slavery simply to keep your tomatoes cheap.

        You can yell about FACTs all you want, but until you support your arguments, they're as full of hot air as you are.

        November 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Val

      @ Mama Mia! – "...illegals who for whatever reason won't immigrate through legal channels..."

      That right there demonstrates most people's lack of understanding of the situtaion. "Why can't they just come legally?" Because it would take a freakin' long time, time that could be spent making money here instead of continuing to wallow in the poverty they were born into. Plus, the US might end up not taking them anyway because they have no education/profession, again due to the circumstances they were born into. And honestly, why would you want to risk your life to cross the border with a possibly crooked coyote who doesn't actually care about you, if you could just do it the legal way? Because the legal way isn't a sure thing, and the clock is ticking. It's their best chance of making a better life for themselves and their families.

      And I agree with Paul Goddard. The dirty jobs are there, but Americans don't want them.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:10 am |
      • kebcarerra

        Because it takes a long time or you are too poor for an education matters not. No one wants to do the dirty job so it becomes racist that only brown skin people will do the work., and look how hard they work isn't it beautiful. NO IT ISN'T. It's slavery and racist in nature and it ll needs to be done legally. You need to get it.

        November 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
      • ALE

        ""Because the legal way isn't a sure thing"

        The legal way simply does not exist, for 99% of applicants, regardless of wait time

        November 30, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • baseman018

      Agreed. In fact instead of complaining that no American will work for minimum wage, why not increase the pay. Since they are so caring about the future of the country, why not pay double and help people (illegal or not) support they families and the economy. Its simple, because the employers want slave labor and want to hold on to all the profits.

      November 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • KJC

      I find it strange that you can't understand why someone would not come here the "legal" way. I know people who put themselves on the list to come to this country "the legal way" and were left on that list for decades to no avail! It's easy to come here if you have a PhD, but for those who actually NEED the jobs because their families are starving, we are not exactly ushering them in. I think people are under this delusion that if you just jump on the list for a couple of years with no criminal record or obvious issues against you, you'll be in our country legally in a jiffy! Yes, some people are permitted into the country legally via these means, but even I admit that if I had been waiting for years, and my family was literally starving because there just were no jobs to be found in my country (which IS the case in many places from which immigants come), I would probably walk thousands of miles into another country, too. It's not as if people are just out to break the law any way they can, so that's why they come here illegally. They are STARVING. You may disagree with their decision, but imagine being in their place for even a minute, as a REAL person, and it's not hard to at least muster an ounce of compassion.

      November 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
      • ALE

        Most Americans do not know their own immigration system at all, since it does not personally affect them until they marry a foreigner. They believe it is all simply a matter of "waiting in line" or " wait for the green light".
        That is true only for millonaires, super athletes, super models, movie stars , nobel prizes and spouses of US citizens. May be 1% of the cases

        November 30, 2011 at 1:47 am |
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