From the NY Times:
Night and day, the heavy front door rarely stops swinging. Men and women pass one another at the entrance of a four-story building on 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, on their way out to work, or back in for a few hours of sleep between shifts. They are line cooks, construction laborers, deliverymen, deli workers, housecleaners and gardeners.
A dozen of the building’s 16 apartments are occupied by Mexicans, and most of those have two families per unit, sometimes more. Except for a few women caring for small children, all the adults — about 50 — are employed. Most work long hours, six days a week, for minimum wage or less. Some have two jobs.
The building is a microcosm of Mexican industriousness in New York City. And there are hundreds of others like it, bastions of low-wage work, crowding and hope.
That success, though, has a flip side. One reason Mexicans have found work in such numbers, experts say, is that many are illegal immigrants, and less likely to report workplace abuses to the authorities for fear of deportation.
“Illegal immigrants are very convenient,” said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. “Employers are quite interested in employing people who are willing to work and to overlook some labor laws.”
Several tenants in the Bensonhurst building said they had held jobs that paid less than the minimum wage. The tenants, who asked that their last names be withheld because they feared being fired or deported, said they had never been paid overtime compensation, were routinely handed the least desirable tasks and were sometimes forced to work on their one free day.
We must look the other way when we discover people living in overcrowded, unsafe conditions who are being abused at work because to do something about this would be anti-immigrant and racist. This is the Bizarro World we live in. And Lord knows, Americans and legal immigrants don't want to be line cooks, construction laborers, deliverymen, deli workers, house cleaners or gardeners, especially in this economy and with unemployment at 10% in some places.
It's funny, but after Fresh Direct was raided and forced to hire people who were here legally, they didn't collapse.