Citizens, illegal immigrants jostle for jobs

Raleigh News & ObserverMarch 15, 2009 

Business owners once said they needed illegal workers because there weren't enough Americans willing to do dirty and lowly jobs. Now, unemployment is nearing 10 percent, and citizens are lining up for jobs they once would have rejected. Yet, some say, many employers still want illegal immigrants.

"They prefer immigrants, especially now," said James Lee, an electrician who hasn't found work since Thanksgiving. "I don't think it's fair when there's so many of us in the shape we're in now."

Lee, 47, said American workers can't compete against immigrants who are willing to work for low pay and under unreasonable conditions. And now that jobs are scarce -- nearly a quarter of construction workers nationwide are unemployed -- Lee is one of a growing chorus who say that illegal immigrants are leaving citizen workers with fewer options.

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