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Need a Job? There are Plenty Available, but Do You Have the Skills or Willpower?

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Inside American Apparel | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

Inside American Apparel | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
"Illegal immigrants take American jobs." That's one of the statements heard throughout the immigration debate as of late, but one that's currently being challenged. Why? Because others are saying there are jobs available out there but employers are having a tough time filling them. One local example is American Apparel. After being made an example of by the Obama Administration last year with an immigration raid of sorts -- forced mass layoffs -- the downtown vertical factory is having trouble finding 2,500 new employees.

"What American Apparel is finding is that the vast majority of applicants for open positions are members of the immigrant community," said the company's lawyer to ABC7. Wages there are generally between $11 and $18. "There has simply not been the training that U.S. citizens need to enter these industries."

"Anti-immigrant forces have argued that immigrants, particularly the undocumented, have been taking jobs from Americans," said Marissa Graciosa of Reform Immigration for America in an e-mail this morning. "Despite studies clearly showing that comprehensive immigration reform would help the American economy, they’ve insisted on using the economic crisis as a way to stall real reform. That’s why United Farm Workers - and now, Stephen Colbert - are showing the whole country that farm workers’ jobs aren’t easy."

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Stephen Colbert last week was the fourth person to sign up for the UFW's Take Our Jobs campaign."Americans do not want to work in the fields," Arturo Rodriguez, president of the UFW, told the Comedy Central host on Thursday night. "It's very difficult work that requires a lot of expertise, and the conditions are horrid! I was in the field on Tuesday with great workers out in Delano, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley, and it was 110 degrees!"

With that said, Graciosa says the proposed AgJobs bill in congress would "protect the workers who bring food to our tables by granting them temporary protected status... That status would help keep them from being exploited by farm owners," she said.

Farmer Douglass Adair says calls for deporting all illegal immigrants literally bites the hand that feeds. "Today, without a union contract, farmworkers are lucky to get minimum wage, with no benefits, no insurance, no enforcement of labor laws that protect other American workers," he wrote in an LA Times opinion piece Friday. "Agriculture is ranked among the three most hazardous occupations in the nation. Well-fed politicians heap scorn on undocumented workers, including much of today's farm labor force, and de-fund the most minimal programs that might help them."