Saturday, March 31, 2007

A businesswoman plays by the rules--and loses big

In “Immigration: When doing the right thing hurts,” published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mark Cromer, a senior writing fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), describes the awakening and subsequent career crisis of Kirsten Stewart, a landscape designer in Santa Monica, CA.

When she first moved to Santa Monica in 2002, Stewart says she was oblivious to the problem [of mass illegal immigration] and consequently hired illegal immigrants as well.

Yet it wasn’t long before she began to feel that there was something inherently wrong with her hiring illegal immigrants. She says it became clear that it hurt her community more than it helped her bottom line.

“I realized that my foreman, who has been in the country a long time, doesn’t have any desire to be a citizen. He has such a strong allegiance to Mexico,” she says.

But it was Stewart’s pregnant nanny from Brazil, also without papers, that pushed her to make a dramatic change.

“She told me that she was so happy that she was having her baby here because (her child) would get a real Social Security number. She told me how surprised she was at all the ‘free’ neonatal care she was getting and all the other ‘free’ health services,” Stewart says. “That’s when the light bulb went off.”

Stewart fired her nanny, stopped hiring her foreman and vowed she would only use workers legally in the country.

Almost immediately, she started losing bids.
Further down in the article:

The experience of trying to do the right thing has left her feeling helpless and embittered.

“I can’t compete by playing honestly in an industry where most everyone else is breaking the rules,” Stewart says. “And they aren’t breaking the rules because Americans won’t do these jobs. They are breaking the rules because they don’t want to pay a decent wage.”

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