Comments: the cost of immigrant kitchen labor
June 26th, 2012
09:15 AM ET
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Chef John Currence's recent essay on the use of immigrant labor in restaurant kitchens sparked a debate that's still raging in the article's comments section. Hundreds of people weighed in, and over 1000 comments later, several themes emerged: work ethics of immigrants, why Americans don't seek restaurant jobs, and who bears the cost in the end.

But first, the results from our poll, which received over 21,000 votes:

If you knew a restaurant hired undocumented workers, would you still eat there?

It doesn't matter to me either way 40%
I don't like it, but I know it's a reality 19.36%
It would never get my money again 17.8%
Yes, even more frequently 16.11%
If it means it costs me less, sure 5.99%
Other 0.74%

From the comments:

Americans expect more; immigrant workers will accept less

The single fact that I learned in my years of experience was that American workers always seem to think that their "labor" is worth five times more than it really is and they think that they don't have to work weekends or holidays. Spanish-descent workers never questioned their schedules and always asked far in advance for their days off. They were consistently reliable in showing up for work, had fewer sick days and were always willing to fill in for American sluggards. - Les Too

I utilize the H-2B federal work visa program because I can't get American workers to show up to interviews let along even want the job. I have used this program for over four years now and have had over 65 interviews for AMERICANS to take the jobs. Of those 65 set interviews, six people have showed up for the interview! Of those six people, they all want $15-20/hour pay. That's more than I make being the manager! I ask why they need that much and they say it's because they make that much with food stamps, welfare, etc. - AndyMac

No one can reasonably accept a standard of life living solely. on governement hand-outs in America. The cost of living is just too high. Many of these restaurants subject their non-citizen immigrant laborers to such poor treatment that no American citizen would tolerate without serious repercussions. That's the main reason they have so many of these immigrants in the restaurant industry. They are willing to tolerate the conditions until they can get something better. I commend them for their perserverance. - Raymond Sims

It's a free (market) country

I don't see a line of Americans waiting to be hired as maids at the Holiday Inn or even a swanky hotel like the Ritz Carlton. I see it as Americans giving away jobs themselves because they are not willing to put in the hard work...Free market means FREE...not free only to certain people, or with restrictions. If someone enters the market and can provide a good or service at a lower price than so be it. - Calliope

But business owners should be willing to pay the price

I was once a cook and looking for a job as a non-Hispanic is tough, lot of owners are looking to cut corners in this economy and labor is the major cost in running a restaurant. It's greedy for the owners, c'mon man pay your taxes, pay your workers, or just close up shop if you can't make money. Legal Americans are competing with those that will work for less, work for longer and never complain when you take advantage of them. Contrary to what many think being a cook is skilled labor, and to be a good cook requires more than the ability to work, it requires a passion and care for what you are creating, not just a paycheck. - Eric

These illegal immigrants are being used as modern day slaves with promises that their children won't be...It's terrible for them, for Americans and the only ones who make out are business owners. The best situation for all except business owners is LEGAL immigration from multiple areas of the world, not just Latin America. That includes unskilled slave laborers, they should have a number assigned to them for tax purposes. - lila

The real issue is regarding taxes. How many restaurants would survive if:
1) They paid everyone on the books.
2) The wait staff reported all of their tips and paid taxes on them?

The industries which rely on undocumented workers, is because they get to have to put all of the risk on their employees. How about $10k fines for each undocumented workers, where the fine goes to the worker. Additionally, get rid of deportation. The 10k is probably how much the employer and employee saves in taxes by using an undocumented worker. Giving the fine to the employee and getting rid of deportation, would give incentive to employees to turn in the employer. Yes, eventually prices will go up, but that's because they should cost more. In the long run, restaurants, farms and other businesses that rely on undocumented workers won't feel the pinch because everyone will be used to the higher prices. - bpeikes

Passing on the cost

One item that gets passed up is medical costs. I have a feeling most undocumented workers are low-paid and have no health benefits. They don't have medical emergencies or have babies? Who pays for that? It is just a shell game where my taxes and insurance costs cover those that do not have insurance? I would rather those that eat at the restaurants pay for the costs instead of everyone. - STTA

American business need to start hiring Americans even if it mean paying more. If it means raising the prices, I would gladly pay. Hiring illlegal immigrants is not the answer. American business should be ashamed for hiring illegals. - MJS

If your hamburger cost a dollar less because an illegal cooked it, but your property taxes are paying for his kids public school education K-12 you still come out behind. - enoughisenough

And if that illegal immigrant gets paid and taxes are taken out, he can't claim a return, so he is contributing more than you. - medallon

It's not just at the restaurant end of the food chain

If farmers do not have a labor force, whether illegal or legal, they can't survive. No white American or black American want to work in a farm, That's reality. Farmers can't afford to pay them the salary that they demand or want or give them benefits. If farmers do not have a labor force they are forced to shut down their farms and go out of business. If the farmers go out of business in America, food has to be imported to this country from places like China, Ecuador, Central America, etc. Food gets imported to this country we do not know what kind of pesticies are being used or how the food is handled as not 100% of all foods can be truly inspected. Plus, food imported is more expensive. So a tomato that was grown by a local farmer use dto cost $1.50 a pound, the same tomato imported from South America will cost you $3.00 a pound. Hence the working American cannot afford those vegetables or foods anymore and they have to subsist on junk food. I use to work for economists, so I know that even though illegals in a country is wrong, unfortunately we do need them in order to keep food cost down in this country and allowing working families to afford healthy meals instead and keep Americans families healthy instead of malnourished. - Pinolera

It's all smoke and mirrors

My daughter in law works in a fine dining restaurant in our area. Almost all of the cook staff are Hispanic, and most of them are illegal. They come in with a fake SS number. Taxes are witheld from their paychecks. Social Security, which they will never be able to draw from, is withheld from their paychecks. Every now and then one of them will get busted for the fake SS number, and they have to let them go. Some of them end up getting hired back a week or two later with a new fake SS number. Why? Because they are good workers, and they seem to be the only ones willing to work that hard for so little and stick around. - CB

Undocumented workers are the backbone of our food production system. They often pay taxes and Social Security through the normal payroll deductions. Federal and state governments willingly collect, knowing full well there will never be a tax return. Would it really be that difficult to run an analysis of payroll taxes collected via incorrect, unused, or deprecated Social Security numbers? Not so much. So while INS and Border Patrol run around chasing immigrant workers, it's all just a smokescreen. The government knows exactly where these immigrants are working. They also know the consequences of enforcement, lost revenues and instability in the food supply. Let's stop pretending that the government is interested in catching these workers and offer them an opportunity to live without fear of random governement reprisal. - Don Geronimo

Comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Read - Chefs with Issues: Immigrants in the kitchen and Why diversity matters in a restaurant kitchen

More on immigration: Analysis: Five things we learned from Supreme Court's immigration ruling



soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. ixvyjki

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    April 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  3. Sun

    I have to agree with some of the other posters, as a chef, I see this every day. The legal Hispanics are totally lazy, and want nothing more than to get something for nothing. Every single one I had working for me sucked. The illegals, however, will work their a**es off, because they know that they might be on a bus back to the border any time, and they need that $$, unlike the American citizen who knows they can get food stamps and welfare. Now, this being said, I do not think they should be here w/o a green card at the very least. Instead of trying to lock down the borders (That has worked SO well in the past here in Texas), create an agency that actually sits at the border, so that if you want to come work in this country, you go there and apply and are placed in a job legally, with a green card. Creates jobs for both Americans and those seekig a better life from otehr countries.
    And BTW, Bourdaine is a HUGE d**k.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Joe

      Yeah and slaves worked hard because they know of the consequences. maybe we should go back to slavery since we don't want to follow laws and do what is RIGHT for the country.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        I AGREE. AMERICAN POLITICIANS DO NOT WANT TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE..

        WHY I LOVE CHINA, WHY ?? CHINA THEIR PEOPLE COMES FIRST..CHINA DOESN'T HAVE LEGAL IMMIGRATION-AND ILLEGALS CROSSING THEIR BORDERS TO STEAL THEIR JOBS FROM THEIR PEOPLE.

        July 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
        • stockpad

          I like facts. You should try some.

          http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/07/china-illegal-immigrants.html

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_People's_Republic_of_China

          July 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • x2zy

      I have no idea where in Texas you are from but where are all these Americans that you speak of that are on welfare and where are all these immigrants who are working their butts off and shun welfare? Even Obama's illegal immigrant aunt was found living in public housing in Boston and using welfare. Lastly, how can you possibly say that opening the border with Latin America (which also means open borders with the rest of the world) will create jobs for Americans? If a policy like that existed, every employer in the US would have the biggest smile on their face, lay off every single American and then replace them with foreigners in 48 hours.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        THAT EXPLAINT WHY OBAMA LOVE THE ILLEGALS SO MUCH. HIS FAMILY ARE ALSO ILLEGALS..QUESTION HOW DID OBAMA ILLEGAL FAMILY GET IN THE U.S. ?????/EXPIRED VISA ??

        July 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          Hi there,

          I love that you're participating in the conversation, but is there any chance I might persuade you to turn your caps lock off? It just so much easier to read if you use upper and lower case - and makes your argument that much stronger.

          Thanks so much,

          Kat Kinsman - Managing Editor, Eatocracy

          July 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  4. HomieDaClown

    We need to fine the business owner, at least, but I would go so far as to pull the business license, 1 day for every illegal alien on their staff. That is the first offense. The second offense, would be to pull the license permanently. I don't begrudge the illegal immigrant, trying to make a better life for his family, but the business owner that exploits them for their labor, at slave wages.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      I AGREE WE MOST GO AFTER BUSINESSES –EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE THE ILLEGALS WITH JAIL TIME AND FINES OF UP TO 10,000 PER ILLEGAL...BUT DON'T COUNT ON OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS TO DO THAT........DEMOCRATS WANT TO GIVE THEM AMNESTY SO THEY CAN HAVE THEIR VOTES.

      July 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son

    Undocumented workers are not immigrants. They are ILLEGAL aliens.

    June 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      TRUE. WHEN WILL CNN GET IT RIGHT ????? CNN DOESN'T WANT TO SAY ILLEGALS, WHY ?? IT DEFEAT THE PURPOSE. LOL. ILLEGAL MEANS ILLEGAL DUH.

      July 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  6. cacique

    But we already knew that. Mexican undocumented workers do work a lot, and then ask for more of it, even if they get paid only minimum wages, which entitled Americans think of as "slave wages"

    June 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • x2zy

      "Entitled" Americans think of as slave wages? OK. Fine. Let's see you bust you butt in a restaurant, get paid $7.00 an hour with no benefits and see how you like trying to 1)pay rent 2.)provide for a family 3)give yourself or anyone in your family a decent future. Sorry if you are that stupid for thinking that taking jobs that were once lower-class into serf-class is a good thing for these people or the country but I am just trying to think with my head.

      June 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      IF MEXICANS ARE HARD WORKERS ? WHY CAN'T THEY WORK HARD IN MEXICO ??? MAKE MEXICO WORK FOR YOU.

      July 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  7. Burbank

    I remember when all those restaurant jobs were held by Americans. We are not too proud for them, they were stolen from us!

    June 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • cacique

      Nothing was stolen from you, but if that self pitty makes you feel better, indulge in it.
      The jobs were advertised, immigrants went to the interview and got hired. They took good care of their jobs, missed work very little and were willing to work weekends and late shifts. You thought that meant work for slaves and quit...

      June 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • compaq715

        Take a job at $7 Hr get $1400 month gov hand outs not to mention free health care and education. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me

        June 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      BUSINESSES ARE ADDICTED TO CHEAP LABOR. WHY RAISE WAGES TO HIRE AMERICANS , WHEN YOU CAN GET SLAVE WORKERS FOR HALF THE COST .......ILLEGALS = THE END OF AMERICA. AMERICA IS DOOM BECAUSE OF THE GREED...

      June 30, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  8. Sonia Takeda

    Everyone has the option to be positive or negative. You can see the choices a person makes just looking the way he or she writes. And those choices reflect their lives.

    June 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      CHOICES REFLECT THEIR LIVES ????? I RETIRED WITH 37 YEARS WITH UNCLE SAM WITH A GREAT PENSION...I'M CONCERN ABOUT YOUNG AMERICANS-AMERICA FUTURE AND IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD.

      FOREIGNERS -ILLEGALS ARE INVADING OUR COUNTRY AND STEALING OUR JOBS . LOWERING OUR WAGES.... I'M VERY CONCERN ABOUT THE DIRECTION OUR COUNTRY IS GOING UNDER OBAMA–DEMOCRATS....

      June 30, 2012 at 12:38 am |
      • Sonia Takeda

        Illegals don't speak English; how come they steal your job (just if you clean houses or work in the restaurants). Legals steal some Americans' job. A solution for you and your children is to be the best as possible as my son and I try to be.

        June 30, 2012 at 8:03 am |
        • Ali999

          Sonia Takeda

          Immigrants could not be blamed for the US Economy. Since 2004 immigration has been decreasing sharply, and many left the country. Historically, US economic crises have been happened when the government halt it.
          -----What fairy tale land are you living in? It's only the last year that the Pew Hispanic Center reported a possible dip in illegal immigration, and even then it's only going as far as saying that MEXICAN illegal immigration may be about equal to the number of Mexicans leaving the US. There are plenty of illegal aliens here from countries other than Mexico, many of whom overstay visas. We know nothing at all really about illegal immigration figures, except what we infer from Census figures and SS. SS reports about 7 million SS numbers being used to work illegally. Census has been pushing the 12 million figures for years. Bear Stearns put the number of illegal aliens here at closer to 20 million–and that was several years ago.

          July 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
        • JOSE0311USMC

          ILLEGALS ARE TAKING JOBS IN ROOFING-CONSTRUCTION--COOKS-ELECTRICIANS-AUTO BODY JOBS--ON AND ON THERE IS NO END....THOSE JOBS AMERICANS DID THOSE JOBS BEFORE THE ILLEGALS .

          WAGES ARE WAY DOWN NOW, WHY HIRE AMERICANS WHEN THEY CAN HIRE SLAVE CHEAP LABOR ??? ILLEGALS = DOOMED AMERICA.= THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.

          July 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
        • JOSE0311USMC

          MEXICANS RUINED THEIR COUNTRY AND NOW THEY ARE RUINING OURS. DEPORT THEM ALL.

          July 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  9. Leroy

    I don't think illegal mexicans should be working in the restaurants. First of all they are breaking the law. Second, they are too poor to wash their hands and get germs all over the food. Third they live in the poorer areas and so they cannot afford nice clothes and so they wear rags to work giving the restaurant a bad image. Fourth, they speak Mexican and when you speak to them in English they don't understand what you say.

    June 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Sonia Takeda

      Have you tried to learn another language than English? I don't think so because you don't seem educated. I came from a poor country and was very disappointed seeing how people around here clean their houses.

      June 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
      • ffacts

        why do you think Americans should learn the language from neighboring failed countries?

        June 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
        • Sonia Takeda

          People as you lose his or her job for LEGAL immigrants. This country was made for immigrants, and still has the most brilliant minds of the world. Underestimate people just if you have a lot money in the bank.

          June 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
        • JOSE0311USMC

          I AGREE. WHY SHOULD WE LEARN SPANISH ?? WE HAVE NO PLANS TO CROSS MEXICO BORDER TO STEAL THEIR JOBS.

          June 30, 2012 at 12:43 am |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        THAT IS A MEXICAN FOR YOU. THEY COME TO OUR COUNTRY AND BAD MOUTH US..THEY ACT LIKE THEY OWN THE U.S. THEY STEAL OUR JOBS--THEY LOWER THE WAGES...

        June 30, 2012 at 12:41 am |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        I KNOW SPANISH, NO MAS ILLEGALS.

        June 30, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • RG

      Leroy – you are an idiot. They don't dress in rags, they don't have some sort of disease because of the fact they are not US Citizens...They are too poor to wash their hands? BTW, they speak SPANISH NOT MEXICAN. Kind of like how we speak ENGLISH NOT AMERICAN.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:32 am |
      • Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son

        Actually if you ask anyone from Spain they will tell you Mexicans speak… Mexican… not Spanish.

        June 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Jack

      Leroy, you are a freaking moron =) Please get educated... read a book, go to school, I don't know... do something. Not only are you a dumb racist asswipe, you're also pretty stupid

      June 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  10. The crux of the matter

    "... they say it's because they make that much with food stamps, welfare, etc."

    Therein lies the problem. Liberal socialist government programs that destroy incentive.

    June 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  11. Jeff R.

    The U.S. allows 1 million LEGAL immigrants into this country every single year. That is more than all other countries combined. If you want to allow more immigrants then pass a law to increase that threshold. Otherwise, we should be able to find enough people (especially in this economy) to wash dishes and cook burgers.

    June 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Genetically Modified Brocoli Eat it. NOW.

    Illegal immigrants make the best food.

    June 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • smitvict

      News Flash!! We had cooks, maids, lawn care and other services BEFORE the illegals tried to take over the U.S. The argument that "Americans won't do the job" is bogus. Unelss you believe that we starved, slept in dirty sheets and had unkept lawns before the invasion.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • The crux of the matter

      "Eat it" seems to be the most relevant thing you wrote and that was in your screen name.

      You have no idea of the immigration status or even nationality of cooks in the kitchen and you know it.

      June 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  13. Sonia Takeda

    I know some people that complain about immigrants taking their jobs; most of them are on drugs and welfare. An educated person knows that immigrants are good for the economy, and cannot take their jobs. I am an immigrant, and very proud to be...

    June 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Ali

      LEGAL immigrants may be good for the economy when we don't have high unemployment as we do now; illegal aliens are NOT good for the economy. Those complaining about Americans not accepting low wages don't seem to understand that wages for labor are set in the same way prices for goods and services are set–through the interaction of supply and demand. Lots of labor with similar skills, wages go down. Can't sell enough burgers? Cut the price or offer deals. Same principle. Moreover, Americans end up subsidizing that "cheap" labor employers feel entitled to. Who do you think pays for their healthcare? (Do YOU offer them insurance?) The educations of their kids?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:44 am |
      • Sonia Takeda

        I know a lot illegal immigrants that pay taxes in all the ways, but they are not going to have any benefits. Where does this money goes?

        June 28, 2012 at 10:37 am |
        • ffacts

          i know many illigal aliens who pay no taxes, yet receive many forms of welfare. they use fake identification to get even more social services, yet complain they are not treated fairly. I understand mexico is a terrible, horrible place, but it is not the job of the U.S. taxpayer to provide a new homeland for the bottom layer of mexican society.

          June 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
      • Sonia Takeda

        Immigrants could not be blamed for the US Economy. Since 2004 immigration has been decreasing sharply, and many left the country. Historically, US economic crises have been happened when the government halt it.

        June 28, 2012 at 11:09 am |
        • JOSE0311USMC

          IF WE DEPORT ALL THE ILLEGALS 15 MILLION ?? , LETS KEEP THE FRUIT PICKERS. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WOULD DROP TO AROUND 3 % . WAGES WILL GO UP AGAIN AND AMERICANS WOULD GLADLY TAKE THOSE JOBS...
          THE ILLEGALS CAN KEEP THE FRUIT PICKING JOBS ON TEMPO VISAS, PICK THE FRUITS AND RETURN TO YOUR COUNTRY AT THE END OF THE SEASON..

          June 30, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • HardCastle

      Yes, you have all the pride in the world, Sonia. Too bad that pride wasn't enough to make something of yourself in the country you were born in.

      Now stop spamming the site. This isn't the U.S. Senate and you aren't allowed to filibuster.

      June 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        HARDCASTLE-- GREAT POINT. MEXICANS TALK A LOT ABOUT HARD WORK AND PRIDE.....WHAT HAPPEN TO THEIR COUNTRY ????? WHY DO THEY COME TO OUR COUNTRY ??

        WHY CAN THEY MAKE THEIR COUNTRY WORK FOR THEM ????? THEY ARE DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY LIKE THEY DESTROYED THEIRS. NO AMNESTY--NO DREAM ACT.

        June 30, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      IMMIGRANTS ???YOU MEAN ILLEGALS

      June 30, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  14. rattlesnake

    like i said i am so tired that they say illegals do work Americans won't do i was a cook for 20 yrs loved it we had white cooks not that many mostly black waitress were white black hispanic, german, cuban, all flavors. now lets get to the meat an grind of things, who did these jobs before illegal invaded USA, tell me like nothing got done until illegals came in to picture, see some of the old timers in the south, they will tell you story's that will make your head spend, how they worked in field picking cotten 5 cent a sack, hands look like some body got a kitchen knife an cut him up, there are men an women, tell you about being in those102 degree heat southern heat, i can go on and on, these mgr, talking about they can't find US cook are so full of sh##t, TRY THE UNEMPOLYMENT OFFICE! stop waiting on someone to walk in there , how some one know you hiring, see with your illegals all you have to do is ask do you have a buddy, they do not fill out alpplications , and mr manager how much go in your pocket for incentive you get for lower payroll, an by the way i had to leave my field as cook because you mgr only wanted to pay min/wages.no thanks got family to feed i wasn't looking for 11.00 or 20.00 an hour but anything from 8.50 an up to pay light bill ,gas bill, high a###s car gas bill,rent, light bill, food bill, car ins, so mister mgr, illegal cooks are the only one's who work these jobs stop telling American citizens that B##########S!

    June 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Michael D

      I agree. I waited on tables (and other hospitality positions) for 15 years. When I left the US Marine Corps the first job I got was as a dishwasher in a restaurant, I then moved up to waiting and then bartending. So don't tell me Americans will not do these jobs that is total bs.

      June 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  15. Thinking things through

    Undocumented workers are all through the food industry. If you want to avoid undocumented worker produce, then grow your own or patronize (many, maybe most, but not all) of your local food growers. Don't just stop at the highly-visible restaurant around the corner. Be real and consider the entire food industry (if this is an issue that seriously matters to you).

    June 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  16. JJustin Opinion

    I hear alot about lazy Americans and spoiled brats but I think the reality is more that there are alot less kids than in the baby boom. Families are much smaller, therefore the kids do get more provided by their parents and don't have to take the real crap jobs. They can make minimum wage being a cashier or a clerk of some sort, any job that isn't the dirtiest. That doesn't make them lazy by any means. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think 16, 17 year olds constitute the bulk of the 12 million out of work.

    The bulk of the unemployed are the adults that lost their jobs to outsourcing of some sort, whether that be factory, tech....whatever. These people aren't going to work minimum wage no matter what. Yes, they do make more via unemployment. As far as the welfare argument goes......I don't think it's as easy to get as most presume although I may be wrong there also. I don't think you turn 18 and file and receive.

    So we have the illegals who are usually older and willing to do the work the 16 and 17 year olds won't because....they don't have to. The big problem with them taking those jobs are that they do hold the wages down. In the Northeast we don't have an illegal problem but there are plenty of restaurants staffed by Americans. How are they surviving? Probably paying a little more than those states with the Illegal immigrant issues. That's how America is supposed to work.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  17. Doug

    My brother and I ran a restaurant in Southern California for years. We had plenty of Hispanic workers including managers but no illegals. The lowest paying jobs were held almost exclusively by non-hispanic whites.

    With 8-12 million American's out of work there are more than enough available people to fill the jobs. The restaurants want the illegals because they put up with the lowest possible wages and won't report code violations.

    June 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • cacique

      but you better keep "the lowest possible wages" at minimum wages, or you will be hanging from your own penis any day now

      June 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  18. Kurt

    I was a prep cook. I am not an illegal immigrant. People still bought the food at the restaurant. Also, it seems that the proposal was that we continue to take advantage of the immigrants instead of paying a fair wage. But I guess at that point, you might as well hire someone legally.

    June 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  19. Mike

    Apparently many American folks are ok with creating a legalized "second class citizen". I am not. The American "Market" is demanding that the restaurant positions should be paid better to attract the American Worker. When this is disrupted by illegal aliens who end of working for less, the customary market wage is not allowed to adjust. This does not mean we necessarily do not need the workers. If we need people to work in the kitchens then we must provide them a route to citizenship. This, however, means the full expectation that these new Americans should get paid as per all Americans usual expectations. Simply, pay more, charge more. If Americans eat out less, then so be it, that is the market.

    June 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dmac4445

      mike i agree, but as you will notice most Americans are not ok with this, just the ones profiting off of this illegal action, they are ones getting the most airtime and making the most noise.

      June 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
      • Mike

        The biggest mistake I see is when the groups being most exploited are represented by leaders who say we need the "cheap labor" so we need to let them work here. Unfortunately, the ones meant to help them are doing the most to sell them as a second class workforce.

        I am not so sure that most Americans have a problem with this .This is an immigration issue. Until the consumer demands something be done, it will be the same story. Currently, I do not see the demand.

        Unless people have lived in a cave since the early 60s, the illegal workforce was always well covered by the media. In my case growing up in Los Angeles, I saw it first hand. I always thought it wrong to have people do the same work but get compensated differently. This has been casually going on for a long time now. If in the end, we truly need (or not), the workforce, they must be Americans (existing or otherwise). Only when this happens can the wages be adjusted to the level they need to be. That means a 'real' immigration policy and subsequent enforcement must be undertaken. To allow the half-hearted effort of the past and current immigration policy will only prolong and worsen the problem. This is true even if you believe the policy should be more open or more closed.

        June 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
        • Alicia

          I keep reading the word slave. The real slaves are rhe hardworking, taxpaying middle class which is forced to pay form llegal aliens (not undocumented anything). I would never knowingly hire anyone for anything if they are illegal. We have turned into a country of weak people who have allowed others to have our quality of life plummet.

          June 28, 2012 at 8:40 am |
        • Ali999

          Mike, even if illegal aliens were legalized, they'd still be poorly paid, though probably not as poorly paid as they are now, for the simple reason that there are so many of them with much the same skills or lack of skills. When you have that situation the employer calls the shots. It's what many of them ran up against in their homelands–too many people for too few jobs–and they're here mainly because even our poorest workers are well paid compared to their home countries, ingoring the fact that our cost of living is generally higher here.

          July 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  20. Dmac4445

    my beef is with the aholes unpatriotic acts not to follow the LAW and not hire illegals no matter what industry. The insane LIE everyone states you gonna pay more money! BS! If greed had a cap and invest in in human American capital we can manage price and quality. but everyone thinks capitalism is GREED if you keep that philosiphy, America is doomed. The real difference from Capitalism from Communism and Socialism was individual ownership over government. No where did it include screwing any and everybody for a buck.

    June 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Dmac4445

      just to add it is all about free labor!!

      June 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  21. DontPretend

    Looks like this article is glaring proof that a major overhaul of welfare, food stamps, etc. is due. It is complete BS that people get paid so much for being lazy, entitled, self-righteous wastes.

    June 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  22. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    *claps hands for Kat and Sarah*

    We lovez you, keep up the hard work.

    June 27, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  23. Psyndi

    It's all Mexican food....HA HA! You can go eat at a fancy restaurant but they all have Mexicans hiding in the back doing all the dirty work, prep and cooking, too! Just watch those foodie shows where they show these great dishes and the owners and managers all blowing hot air about themselves and their restaurant. When they show the kitchen they purposely avoid filming all the Latinos back there who are the real ones making the food so tasty that the customers keep coming back for more!

    June 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  24. JOE

    so, what is the problem

    June 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  25. Kreechent

    I have worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years, worked in over 5 restaurants, all different cuisine styles, and every single cook/chef/kitchen manager has been hispanic. It doesn't matter if it is American/Mexican/Asian/Italian/etc. they are all Hispanic, and they do a pretty darn good job. Like Jose said, people imagine a French chef in the back with a big white chef's hat and a thick food network accent to top it off when in actuality it's almost guaranteed to be a Hispanic cook who is not getting his/her fair share for that hard work. How would you like to work in 120 degree heat for minimum wage or slighty above for a solid 8 hours, making steaks and seafood for rich white folk when you can't even afford to take your own family out to dinner at your own restaurant. I've always been disgusted by how we treat the people in this country who work the hardest; they do the jobs white people would never dream of because for the most part Hispanics have a great work ethic, unlike many white people who feel nothing but entitlement because their families happened to be born here longer ago than their Hispanic counterparts. White people need to get a grip and stop being so selfish and greedy. I understand that this is Capitalism, but seriously, there is a difference between healthy competition and simple greed/entitlement issues...like spoiled children...

    June 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • JOE

      white people do not want to get thier hands dirty

      June 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Angela

      I have worked with many legal Hispanics and most of them are just as lazy, if not more lazy, than other Americans. The only reason that those illegals work hard is because they have to, not because they want to. Once they get nationalized and can get a decent paying job, do you really think they are going to work for minimum wage and work like a dog??? I'm so tired of people saying, ohhhh Hispanics work so hard, not like you lazy Americans. I'm a white American and I work hard to provide for my family and I'll be danged if I will work for minimum wage, when I DO deserve more. I was poor and worked hard to put myself through college, and there are millions of good Americans that have done the same thing that I have done. These illegals are criminals, bottom line, nothing more. They work like slaves, because they have to hide. They are too lazy too start the process to become legal. Those criminals are waiting for a free handout, for King Obama to grant them full citizenship without them having to do anything to earn it. I do know what it takes to become legal, I have Mexican friends who have done it. They went back to Mexico, applied for citizenship and moved back when they were accepted. I refuse to feel bad for people that STEAL SSN#s that don't belong to them. You people that sympathize with those criminals, I hope it's yours and your families that get your SSN#s stolen by some illegal. Then, if you lose your job and have to draw unemployment, have fun trying to get it when some illegal criminal in AZ is using your SSN# and it blocks you from drawing funds that you have paid into your whole working career. You sympathize with the criminals, then you take care of them. I'm not racist, I have many friends from all different ethnicities. I just am completely fed up with criminals whining that we don't hand them citizenship, and other people putting Americans down. Not everyone in the U.S. has a good work ethic, and for some reason it's always pointed at the whites, but most Americans are hard working citizens. The lazy, welfare sucking whites that REFUSE to get a job are called white trash, do NOT compare all of us to them.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
      • Sonia Takeda

        Some illegal immigrants steal SSN out os despair. Don't put everyone in the same bag, if you are educated as you said. Perhaps you went to college, but it does not mean you are educated. Get more information, and stop being so xenophobic. Each immigrant has his or her own story like you do (being very bitter and unhappy).

        June 28, 2012 at 7:44 am |
      • judeamorris

        Your rant is oblivious to the facts of Social Security. If some illegal is using your SS# and thus paying into your account for years, YOU benefit. There is no problem drawing on the account when you are of age. It's your number. You have only to prove your age (which as a legal citizen with a birth certificate, you can do). You will receive more benefits since SS is paid according to your earnings.

        June 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
        • Ali999

          Jude, you obviously don't realize that the IRS and SS cooperate and that an illegal alien who has earnings under a stolen SS number is creating a world of hurt for the person that number belongs to with the IRS. The IRS will want to know why you, the owner of the number, haven't paid taxes on that income. There are also other complications. In this area, a family lost a young child to cancer and couldn't get reimbursed from the gov't because someone was working illegally using their child's SS number. And then there are the children who are too young to be working but will find out when they start that their credit record's already been ruined.

          And of course, the reality is, by your reasoning, that illegal aliens can NEVER be legalized because their sole advantage to SS occurs only if they're never legalized. The SS Administration ran the figures and estimates each legalized illegal alien would cost us a NET $15,000. Now, what are said illegal aliens going to do when they reach old age and can't work and can't collect SS or Medicaid or Medicare?

          July 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Ali

      Kreechent, there are plenty of Americans who would like to be chefs/cooks, but can't, because the employers you identify prefer cheap, compliant illegal alien labor. The Wall Street Journal ran a story about the dominance of Latino illegal aliens in the food service industry and it was pretty apparent that restaurants preferred to raise an illegal worker through the ranks to chef because he was cheaper than an American or legal worker and could be counted on not to leave easily. If illegal aliens don't like the conditions they work under, they should leave, because the reality is, were they legalized, then they'd want the same wages and benefits Americans already do and the restaurant wouldn't want them anymore.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  26. jose

    whatever whatever ....just watch tony bourdines episode of les halles we run the kitchen mofo´s
    viva mexico cabrones everybody thinks that your steak was brioles by a french cook hahahahahaha never in your wildest dreams!!!

    viva la raza now americans want to cook that´s funny i guess america´s economy is reacting and us people getting whatever job they can to survive.....try golf!

    June 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • JellyBean

      "Press one for Spanish, mo fo."

      June 27, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Jeff R.

      LaRaza is the largest racist organization since the KKK.

      June 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Leroy

      I am impressed. A mexican who can write in english. this is even funnier than watching Manny Pacquiao beat up all the mexican punks in the ring.

      June 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
      • cacique

        I don't think your being impressed matters much to anybody. What does matter is to see that you're one of those bullies passing biased-racist judgement on Mexicans. If that is all you can do other than producing at least some reasonable comment ... well, so be it

        June 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  27. Michele Hays @QuipsTravails

    This isn't just in the restaurant business: it's across the board. Know why those bad-for-you-foods are so cheap? The discount comes from near-slave wages to undocumented workers who pick the crop and process it into frankenfood. Did you see the Food Chain Worker's new study The Hands That Feed Us? http://foodchainworkers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Hands-That-Feed-Us-Report.pdf

    June 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
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