Last week we considered the iconic car manufacturer, Tesla, having to go to México to bolster its engineering teams. Tesla demonstrated the fallacy that Mexican immigrants are only menial laborers taking jobs away from U.S. workers. The issue of a shortage of U.S. engineers is not about quantity, as many times assumed, but rather it is an issue of the quality of the U.S. engineers. Tesla was forced to go to México in search of quality engineers. Like Tesla, there are many other examples to disprove the false narrative about Mexican immigrants.

The other false narrative is that U.S. workers can fill the ranks of deported Mexican workers if given the opportunity. The agricultural sector has continually disproved this, but the false narrative continues. Earlier this month, the Kentucky Derby demonstrated another aspect of the need for immigrants for U.S. jobs.

According to the Associated Press in an article published in Fox News Sports on May 1, immigrants have become an indispensable part of Churchill Downs, according to people in the industry referenced in the article. Dale Romans, the second-winningest trainer in Churchill’s history, was quoted by the AP as stating that “he can’t find American workers to do jobs.” Romans was additionally quoted; “This is definitely a business that survives on an immigrant workforce.” He added, “Without it, I don’t know what we would do.”

Clearly, immigrants are needed in the horse racing industry in the U.S. This is contradicting to the notion that when the immigrant workforce is deported, U.S. workers will step up to fill the need.

The first argument that is likely to be made by some is that the issue is about the problem about undocumented immigrants. They’ll argue, like they have previously, that those that come to work legally have no problems. Yet, that is also another false narrative disproved by the Kentucky Derby.

The AP article quotes an H-2B visa holder, who is legally able to work in the horse industry, as being afraid because he fears eventually being kicked out of the country because of Trump. He is often told to “be careful” as he goes about his work.

Horse racing is a $25 billion-dollar industry, according to the Washington Post (Gilpin, Lyndsey, May 4, 2016), and it is an industry that is forced to depend on undocumented immigrants because the visa process for H-2B visas is onerous and visa allotments are much less than the number of jobs required to fill the slots necessary to keep the industry working. The H-2B visas requires that the hiring entity give preferential treatment to U.S. workers, but often the U.S. workers are not interested in working in the labor-intensive job for $15 to $16 an hour. The visa system limits the number of workers it allows in legally. Its allotment is much less than the jobs that need to be filled.

The Guardian on May 6 put it more succinctly: “We can’t find workers this year- it’s been tough…Most of the workers we have at the track won’t even leave to go out at night to buy groceries because they are so scared of being deported.” The Guardian attributed this quote to Julio Rubio of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

The notion that immigrants are detrimental to the U.S. is proved to be false through the recent experience of the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the premiere horse race demonstrates that immigrants are an important part of the United States.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “Kentucky Derby Proves Immigrants Are Needed for the Country”

  1. Convoluted logic again, Martin. A basic premise of capitalism is that wages/compensation rise when jobs aren’t filled. But illegal aliens willing to work for less keep those jobs filled. When I was growing up in Miami, jobs at the track in Hialeah walking horses, cleaning stalls, etc. were kept filled with horse crazy teenagers. Similarly, both my brothers worked at part-time jobs picking fruit. Today, those jobs aren’t available. Singapore has a permanent resident plan for financial immigrants looking to fill jobs the average Singaporean no longer wants to do. The way they keep it honest is that employers pay a tax on PR wages (think it about $2 per hour more). PRs have a path to citizenship if they want it and the ability to legally work if they want to keep their original citizenship. A portion of the wage tax goes to skills training programs and if employers train their PRs to give them additional skills there is a tax credit. The system ensures PRs don’t become a discounted labor force and provides incentives for raising the skills level of lesser skilled PRs. We would do well to look at that type of program to address the issue of whether or not the issue is labor availability or lack of labor market competitive wages.

  2. Excellent column, Martin. If Trump gets his way, guided by the fantasies in his own mind, he will crash the U.S. economy for all of us.

    1. Ken Hamilton
      Guess you did not see the Dow today it was at 20,981.94. At the end of October of 2016 it was at 18,142.62 and sliding. It looks like the Dow will break 21,000.00 by at least the end of the month of May if not in the next few days. If you have a 401 k you should have seen a good increase in it’s value since Trump was elected but since you hate Trump so bad give it back! Send it to help pay the Federal debt or to a charity your a hypocrite if you keep it.
      Yes the swill media has been claiming a down turn even before Trump was elected if Trump got elected. In fact they claimed that we would be in a major recession by the end of 2016, early 2017 with market in a spiral. What the hell happened to those prediction!
      Nope those on the Tit tard left are the one living in a fantasy and delusional state.

  3. Agree, we need immigrants especially in the agricultural industry because there aren’t enough workers. But that doesn’t translate to open borders.

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