How To Hire An Illegal Immigrant

I was really surprised to find this article on MSN Money entitled Dirt Cheap Day Labor. It’s a two page article that educates and basically encourages regular Americans (as distinct from business owners) to hire illegal immigrants – or “undocumented workers.”

The article tells you where to find them: “In most cities of any size, there’s a ready pool of cheap labor available on short notice, congregating in parking lots near the local Home Depot or a similar store, or at high-traffic intersections.”

It tells you everybody is doing it: “The share of private homes hiring illegals goes up every year,” says Steven Camarota, the director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. About 12 million undocumented workers live in the U.S., 7 million of them working for companies or picking up odd jobs.

It assures you that you won’t get caught: “What are the chances of a homeowner being caught? ‘Virtually none at all,’ says San Diego attorney Jeff Isaac, who calls himself ‘a lawyer in bluejeans’ for his practical approach to the law.” … “Though it is illegal to hire an undocumented worker, the law is seldom enforced. And in the cases where it is, authorities focus on companies that hire many illegal immigrants.”

It warns of a few remote risks: “If you are planning to run for public office or have your eye set on a confirmable position, hiring an undocumented worker may be enough to wreck your career plans.” … “If a day laborer is injured on your property, he could sue you or seek to make a claim on your homeowners insurance policy.”

Then with the help of the director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, it offers helpful tips and etiquette:

  • “Learn some basic Spanish phrases,”
  • “Know what you expect to pay” (about $10/hr in NYC and LA),
  • “Expect to pay at the end of each workday even if the job lasts several days,”
  • “Typically, homeowners provide lunch if a job is for all day,”
  • “They may need your bathroom, regular breaks, or rides to and from their originating point or to a public bus stop”
  • And you might not be able to locate the worker to complain or get a shoddy job fixed.

What do you think about this article? Despite your views on illegal immigration, do you think it’s appropriate for a major national media organization to blatantly condone illegal behavior (it’s illegal for the immigrants to be/work here AND for Americans to hire them)? Are you shocked, or not surprised at all to see this?

More from Meg at The World of Wealth

23 thoughts on “How To Hire An Illegal Immigrant”

  1. Shocked. Yes, I’m shocked that a national media organization is encouraging illegal behavior. I think a worry that they’ll make a claim on your homeowner’s insurance should be the least of your worries. It’s wrong. Just because a lot of people do doesn’t make it right. We have laws for a reason. Lawlessness leads to anarchy.


  2. I am shocked that JLP still allows Meg to guest blog on All Financial Matters. every time she posts there is some kind of political angle that targets minorities. First it was the whole discussion about Section 8 housing and now this.

    JLP, you need to decide what type of blog this is. I remember where your posts used to be just financial information, now we have these political posts that have little to do with financial analysis.

    I remember there was a post sometime back when a person on a work visa asked you to evaluate the benefits of a 401k for his situation. That’s what you did and all the comments by your readers were directed at that financial analysis.

    Now we have posts that have everything to do with sensationalism rather than financial analysis.

  3. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they would print something like this. They are telling you to not only break the law but to cheat a small business out of work. People need to wake up and quit being so greedy. Cheating someone else so that you can get a head is NOT something we should strive to do. The funny thing is the same people that cry foul when a company moves jobs overseas would actually hire illegals to work on their home. We can all use the excuse that we can only afford cheap labor but that is the same argument a big company would use.

    Everyone likes a great deal but to me this is similar to them saying “You can save a ton of money on groceries by simply stealing them from your local Safeway.”

    Also the argument that “everyone” else is doing it is just plain dumb.

  4. I think the article illustrates the media’s view on this issue, but writing blatant support of it and how to use it.

    This article was written a while ago.

  5. I think it’s pretty pathetic that they would write this up. As others have said, it’s illegal activity. Why doesn’t the media provide steps on how to rob a bank? it’s basically the same thing.

    As a defense for Meg (whether I agree with what she writes or not), illegal immigration is a finance issue, and almost everything has a financial side. She just didn’t make it clear in the article.

    However, just fyi, in 2003, $12 billion was sent back to Mexico from workers in the US, which was the biggest source of foreign income, even bigger than oil. ( Although this is minor in comparison to the GDP, it’s still a lot of money that’s not being returned into our economy.

  6. I wasn’t going to comment until I read the comments.

    Hiring an “illegal” is like stealing from safeway? Or robbing a bank? Are you people daft?

    Let’s break this into two pieces. Immigration and the illegal nature of them working for you (no payroll, etc). I’m going to skip the former because I don’t think that’s what people are complaining about (stealing jobs, not paying taxes, etc).

    So… how is this any different than paying your kids to do chores. Both skirt payroll taxes and both are illegal (yes, it technically is, though never enforced). Both keep the money from going to somebody who is part of the economy and does pay taxes. Thus, by paying your kids (or even having them do chores for free), you’re taking money away from Merry Maids, right? Just like stealing food from Safeway. Ugh.

  7. Don’t mean to flame on other people’s flame, but c’mon, Meg has a valid post. This post is reflective of free market capitalism.

    BC of minimum wage laws, it’s hard to get cheap labor “legally” in America. Keeping it short and simple, if they abolished the minimum wage law, then we wouldn’t have to employ “illegal” labor, because the free market would dictate the cost of labor (and not government). This is similar to rent control issues in LA and NY. But because of too much meddling by the government in our economy, we are forced to find alternatives in cutting our expenses.

    Meg has put up a great finance post up. It talks about the +/- of hiring cheap “illegal” cheap labor vs. “legal” expensive labor. Not about the political views and/or ramifications of doing it. Just bc you disagree with it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Drive down to your local HD and you’ll see all the illegals congregating there. Don’t be ignorant and stupid.

  8. Yabadaba,

    Call me crazy but I don’t see anything offensive about this post or the post about Section 8 housing. Yes, Meg’s political views are fairly similar to my own, but I don’t see why these types of posts that aren’t written from a political viewpoint are considered offensive by some readers. Maybe you should ask yourself why you find it so offensive.


    You’re comparing the hiring of illegals to paying your kid an allowance? For one, when I pay my kids an allowance, they aren’t taking it and sending it back home to support another family. Their allowance goes back into the economy via Target, Wal Mart, or some other store that my family frequents.

    Secondly, when my kids get sick I take them to the hospital or doctors office I, not taxpayers, pay their medical bills.

    Finally, I don’t want to turn this into a political blog. I realize that political discussions of hot button issues only seem to cause strife. However, you have to realize that so much of personal finance is political, whether it be the subprime mortgage crisis, minimum wage, or national health care.

    I do think we should be able to discuss these things without becoming offended.

  9. Meg and JLP,

    It might help to take a more balanced approach to political issues. For instance, while it’s true illegal immigration may be doing some damage to the economy, it’s hardly the most dangerous one. The dollar is tanking, and is only as valuable as it is because China is intentionally keeping its value up. Meanwhile, the Iraq war is sucking billions out of the economy at a much greater rate than immigrants are sending it overseas.

    If you only discuss the political/financial issues that match up with one party’s political talking points (bashing poor people and immigrants, making it pretty obvious how you’re voting in November), then people are going to rightfully call these politicial, not financial, postings.

  10. mobtown said:

    “If you only discuss the political/financial issues that match up with one party’s political talking points (bashing poor people and immigrants, making it pretty obvious how you’re voting in November), then people are going to rightfully call these politicial, not financial, postings.”

    Exactly where did Meg “bash” poor people?

    Did you not notice that Meg was talking about ILLEGAL immigrants, not LEGAL ones?

  11. Look, I know I’ve been posting more heavily on financial topics with heavy political slant lately on this blog – I appreciate the feedback encouraging me to mix it up more. When I come across those topics though, I’m always motivated to blog about it here because a lot of AFM readers DO like those types of discussions, and the comments are always interesting and diverse.

    While I have to point out that no one is forcing you to read it or take the time to comment about how much you don’t like reading it, I do acknowledge that a little variety is in order. I don’t do it just to get people rattled, though. This article was being featured at MSN Money – apparently they think it has to do with finance (of the “how to save money” variety).

    Do keep in mind that almost everything original that you want to write about finance these days is going to be political on some level, or at least controversial. Finance writers who don’t get political often get repetitive and labeled “generic.” Additionally, most every financial topic discussed in the media is with a political party persuasion– the recession, the housing market, inflation, gold, oil, interest rates, estate planning, taxes, the deficit et al. Not an excuse, just a reality in an election year.

  12. JLP,

    For me, Illegal Immigrant isn’t a dirty word. It’s hard for me to condemn someone who risks their life crossing the border and lives in constant fear, all so they can make a better life for someone back home. The US Policy on immigration needs to be fixed, but demonizing people who are supporting their families isn’t the answer.

    Also, in terms of bashing poor people, I was referring to you, not Meg.

    I get that your a Republican and so is Meg, and that’s great. But as Meg made clear in her Section 8 housing post, financial information can be distorted when viewed through a political lens. (As her agent said “This has nothing to do with your political convictions)

  13. Illegal does not equal wrong. Increasingly, more and more things are made illegal that having nothing to do with ethics or decency. Why can’t these people be here? We aren’t using all of the space, and they are paying for what they use just like the rest of us. The notion that we get to keep them outside of our arbitrary national boundaries is as archaic as right-of-conquest. Do you remember how the US took control of most of this country in the first place?

    And how can it possibly be wrong to simply employ someone for a day’s work? Oh, that’s right, our government wants to make us all policeman of its immigration system, its employment laws and its retirement system. Systems which are themselves immoral and violate the rights of ordinary Americans every day via aggression and interference. No thanks.

    Shine, perishing republic.

  14. “if they abolished the minimum wage law, then we wouldn’t have to employ “illegal” labor, because the free market would dictate the cost of labor (and not government).”
    Not that simple. For example, illegal cleaning ladies and nannies often earn more than minimum wage, I believe so do farm workers. The cheapest rate for an illegal cleaning lady in my area is $16 an hour, hardly minimum wage.

    In many cases illegal workers fulfil the need where there is shortage of Americans willing to do the job. Farm jobs is one such area, so is childcare and household help. Sure, there are American nannies, but whom would you rather hire to watch your kids – a foreign woman with a degree in education or nursing or an American who is barely qualified to be hired by McDonald?

    As to the economy – have you thought about the impact the lack of migrant workers will have on what we pay for our food?

    Sure, they could be paying taxes – if the US had a program for temporary workers. Some of them actually do as IRS doesn’t mind getting taxes from illegal workers (

  15. mobtown,

    I fail to see how that post is bashing poor people. It’s not. It’s bashing our political system. I believe in helping those who are less fortunate.

    Why must you paint anyone who isn’t a liberal as not caring for the poor?

  16. Mobtown (and Yabbadabba) – No one on this board has any idea what my views about illegal immigrants are. In my post I outlined a financial “how to save money” article from a financial website and posed a question – “DOES THIS ARTICLE’S ADVICE SURPRISE YOU?” We’ve all read a lot of financial articles, and I’d hoped people would discuss the financial implications and underlying ethical dilemma this article forces people to confront.

    In my section 8 post I similarly pointed out some things I’d heard and learned about section 8 and ASKED FOR THE READERS’ INPUT. I readily admitted I’d never thought much about the topic except to assume I wasn’t for it, that I’d heard great things about the program, and I openly asked others to share related experiences and opinions.

    I think both of these are interesting post topics (obviously, or I wouldn’t have posted them). I welcome your opinions and input, and I don’t disagree with everything you say, contrary to your assumptions. I agree that a balanced approach to political/financial matters is always a good thing. Which is why I wish you’d elaborate about your viewpoint on the issues–rather than complaining about having to read mine or JLP’s.

    To everyone actually discussing the topic at hand – thanks for your comments!

    Thomas – I agree the tough thing for me is that the better job is often cheaper. It goes against my free market principals to force people to pay more for less quality/quantity of work.

    Bill – I agree that illegal isn’t always wrong. Most of those immigrants are good, hardworking people who are determined to get ahead. Just the people the American Dream is made for! It seems wrong on an instinctive level to deprive such a person of jobs – or even housing – just because they jumped the boarder for a chance at a better life. Can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. But I do get the problem with it too–they are using our resources – space, schools, hospitals, jobs, nonprofit resources etc – and they are a) often not paying taxes into the system, and b) sending much of their earnings out of our economy, back to Mexico, rather than spending them here to bolster our economy. You can’t let too many people take and not give before you have a big problem.

    In general though, my thought about the article was just that it’s a crazy stretch and seems to have been written purely to sensationalize, under the guise of financial savings tips. I can’t believe MSN would write about hiring an illegal worker (or whatever PC term you like better) as a savings strategy that the public needs to be educated about just like refinancing your car or improving your credit.

  17. ummm…not paying taxes???? where do you get that from???… we pay taxes on food, clothes, resources…Then every Pay check we get Social security, state, federal taxes taken out…. And Most if not Many “illegals” have TIN numbers where they can file for taxes… do we ever see any of the money that goes to ss?? no not any undocumented worker….. where is all that money?? does anyone know about that… Money might be being sent back.. but money is also being spent here… Look at every business in the United States?? Almost all translate to spanish, need spanish speaking workers, invest money in marketing and targeting spanish speakers.. WHY do you think that is?

  18. I feel that if we implement the FAIR TAX or a NATIONAL SALES TAX instead of a tax on income, then everyone would pay into the system. By the way, many illegals that have false id’s and social security numbers do pay into the system, and I am sure that they would all be willing to if it would get immigration off of their backs.

    I hire Latin Americans because they are eager to work to please and get bthe job done no matter how dirty the job may be. To be honest, I don’t know any Americans that would take these jobs. Poor Americans eat better than anyone in the world and if they do take these job it will disqualify them from their air-conditioned HUD housing, Section 8, No Mother Left Behind, Disability, Welfare and all the other government assistance they steal.

    I treat my Latin-American laborers with respect and pay them well because they have earned my respect. If we want to stop them from sending all their cash south of the border we should implement a tax collected at such foreign money transfer companies as Western Union.

  19. I wouldn’t be so eager to defend illegals. I know lots of them that would do evil things to any of us. They are NOT here just to work on cheap labor. These illegals Cheat and Lie and lots of them Take Away and don’t want to put anything into our economy. I know because They have told me themselves. DON’T BE FOOLED BY THESE ILLEGALS WHO PLAY THE VICTIMS OF THE US GOVERNMENT, meanwhile, THEY HAVE HATRED FOR ANYTHING THAT IS AMERICAN. THEY ARE ONLY HERE FOR MONEY; And They DON’T CARE What Happens to America.

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