Some illegal immigrants might get stimulus-related jobs

The Charlotte ObserverFebruary 19, 2009 

Thousands of N.C. jobs and millions in wages created from the federal economic stimulus package could wind up going to illegal immigrants.

Congress stripped language from the $789-billion package that would have required employers to verify the legal status of workers paid with stimulus money.

The White House estimates the package will generate or save an estimated 105,000 jobs in North Carolina over the next two years.

While it's impossible to say definitively how many illegal immigrants will get jobs, multiple studies estimate at least 1percent of the construction labor force is in the U.S. illegally. Experts say actual numbers are likely much higher.

North Carolina could get $1.3 billion for highway and school construction, which, based on federal estimates, could mean more than 5,000 jobs for undocumented workers.

"That's not right," said Jon Holstead, 24, a Charlotte electrician helping to build Salome Church Road Elementary School near Lowe's Motor Speedway. "You have Americans out of work, but you have illegal immigrants coming to work."

The stimulus package was a popular topic this week at the school construction site where Americans and immigrants work side-by-side. Several immigrants on the project told the Observer they are working without proper legal papers.

A masonry worker, Juan Luis, 28, said Latinos are struggling as much as anyone.

To read the complete article, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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