Immigration and Printing — Accountability Matters
At the risk of generalizing, a large percentage of those printing industry workers who are in the country illegally would most likely be bindery workers or in positions that require fewer skill sets or lesser training. A reason for this, some suggest, is that the very poor have no access to the level of training needed to operate presses and equipment of a technical nature.
“The industry is so craft- and high-tech-oriented today...with illegal workers, you’re not going to find the skill sets, even close to being skilled, to be able to impact the issue either way,” notes Joe Polanco, president of the Printing and Imaging Association of MidAmerica, and himself a Hispanic.
“(The bindery) is the only place where you’re going to need inexpensive help, like day laborers. You can bring them in, show them what to do, and then they’re gone. Most cases, printers use temp services for that kind of work. If you need kitting and fulfilling for three days, you hire a temp service to do it.
“But in the day-to-day bindery, very few folks are going to be illegals.”
Polanco estimates that perhaps as much as five percent of industry workers are living in this country illegally. That relatively small percentage, and the difficulty of finding skilled illegals willing to work under minimum wage, makes it unlikely that printing companies and binderies could achieve a definitive price advantage over their regional or national competitors.
The one aspect that has the potential to drag the entire industry into the immigration question is the issue of liability and the degree to which employers could or should be held accountable for the veracity and authentication of documents that establish identity and employment eligibility. Or, to make a long story short, is the applicant really the person on the ID card, and is this person in this country legally?