Can I get an illegal job in the US?

US immigrants: Illegal - and indispensable

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Gravel crunches, a cloud of dust rises: Santos "el Tito" * winks into the sunrise. At the end of the street, where the city ends and the desert begins, a pick-up truck comes up. Work, finally! But the car rolls by. Santos looks at the men and shrugs. These gringos! Sleep until the dolls and we wait and wait!

Tucson, Arizona. At seven o'clock in the morning the university town is in deep sleep; there are only 30 men standing around on one street corner in the far south of the city. Some have spades and welding equipment with them, work gloves and backpacks. Santos doesn't own any of these, he's only been in the US for three months and is new to the Southside Worker Center. He's the only one who speaks frankly, gives his last name and his home village in Honduras. He still has to get used to the fact that he is not even allowed to be here - not in the USA and not looking for work.

Street corners like this one can be found in many US cities. Around eleven million immigrants live in the country without a valid visa or green card; they either stayed in the country after their visa expired or, like Santos, came through the desert. According to the Pew Research Institute, one in 30 people in the United States - and one in four immigrants - belongs to this group.

Just don't attract attention

The paperless have learned not to attract attention and not to complain. Many speak English, have lived in the US for decades, raise families, work and pay taxes - they perform the same services as US citizens, but do not have the same rights. Because they must avoid any ID check, they cannot leave and re-enter the United States, claim social benefits, go to the police as a witness or victim of a crime, bypass checkpoints and other controls, and are not allowed to vote. Above all, however, they are not allowed to work subject to social insurance and are not insured. The sociologist Cecilia Menjívar calls these bureaucratic borders the "internalization" of borders.

Anyone could belong to the eleven million: the neighbor, the babysitter, the investment banker. When the successful journalist José Antonio Vargas in 2011 New York Times-"Outete" the article as a paperless man, he opened the eyes of many. "We are not always who you think we are," he wrote. "Some pick your strawberries or look after your children. Some are high school or college students. And others write the news articles that you read. (...) Although I see myself as an American, this country does not consider me its citizen." When he opted for a Time-Cover had photographed with other paperless people, there was also a German among them.

Salinas, California: Trucks jam on the highway that connects the Valley of Pickers and Vegetable Farmers with Silicon Valley. "4,000 trucks come through here every day," says Councilor Steve McShane. "You come out with fresh vegetables for the whole country." To the left and right of the highway advertising signs: "Workers Wanted! Workers wanted! "

Farmers in Salinas have a problem, says McShane: "The soil here is so fertile and we have so many crop cycles a year that farmers just can't find enough pickers to till all of the fields." The accusation of many Republicans that illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs, McShane laughs: "I want to see the Americans who work here for eight to ten hours on the field for the minimum wage! They would get the job immediately. But it Nobody answers. " So the farmers take illegals as pickers.

Without the paperless, the US economy will stand still

The "day without immigrants" two weeks ago made it clear what happens when the migrants - legal and illegal - do not show up for work: the nanny does not come, the tram is at a standstill, the supermarket tills are not manned, restaurants remain due to a lack of staff and waiters are closed, houses are not cleaned and nobody mows the lawn. Say: The American lifestyle the middle class is collapsing. "Indians used to do the dirty, dangerous, and difficult jobs," says Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan of the Migrant Policy Institute, a moderate think tank in Washington D.C. "Since they are no longer willing to do so, undocumented workers from other countries fill this gap."