Many Mexicans Secure
Jobs Before Crossing Border

By Julie Watson and Olga R. Rodriguez
SASABE, Mexico (AP) -- When Pedro Lopez Vazquez crossed illegally into the United States last week, he was not heading north to look for a job. He already had one.
His future employer even paid $1,000 for a smuggler to help Vazquez make his way from the central Mexican city of Puebla to Aspen, Colo., he said.
"We're going to Colorado to work in carpentry because we have a friend who was going to give us a job," Vazquez said.
Vazquez, 41, was interviewed along the Arizona border after being deported twice by the U.S. Border Patrol. He said he would keep trying until he got to Aspen.
His story is not unusual. A growing number of U.S. employers and migrants are tapping into an underground employment network that matches one with the other, often before the migrants leave home.
As debate over immigration heats up in the United States, more U.S. companies in need of cheap labor are turning to undocumented employees to recruit friends and relatives back home and to smugglers to find job seekers.
Darcy Tromanhauser of the non-profit law project Nebraska Appleseed said companies in need of workers rely on the networks to "pass along the information more effectively than billboards."
"It started out more explicitly, where [meatpacking] companies used to have buses to transport people to come up, and they would advertise directly in Mexico," she said.
At the same time, it has become less risky for companies to recruit illegal migrants. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. prosecution of employers who hire such workers has dwindled.
The few cases that are prosecuted, however, highlight how lucrative a business recruiting undocumented workers has become. In one case, a single smuggler allegedly earned $900,000 over 15 months placing 6,000 migrants in jobs at Chinese restaurants across the upper Midwest. ...
But many migrants, and many employers, say the recruiters provide a valuable service. Sergio Sosa, who organizes Nebraska meatpacking workers, said many are seen as heroes in the Mexican towns where the workers come from.
Sosa said that in the 1990s companies bused migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border, paying them room and board plus salaries of $100 a week. But after a government crackdown, they began to rely more on their workers to recruit friends and family back in Mexico.
"One of the meatpacking supervisors is from Michoacan, and most of the people working for him come from his town," Sosa said. "There's no official recruiting. It's more internal through family."
U.S. resources diverted
To make a real dent in this network, the U.S. government would need to go after employers or make them pay the costs of legalizing workers, migration activists say.
But an August 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, indicates the opposite is happening. After the Sept. 11 attacks, work-site inspections by U.S. immigration officials plummeted as they focused on national security cases.
From 1999 to 2004, the number of businesses that faced fines dropped from 417 to three, the GAO said. Data after 2004 could not be compared because the government changed the way it records data.



This Site Served by TheHostPros