Advocates for open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens often claim that they are doing jobs legal residents won't. That isn't really true, they just do some jobs for less, because their illegal status makes them unable to compete.
The most dangerous jobs actually pay quite well - and they don't hire people who are not allowed to be in America legally. But jobs that are hazardous and can be done without concern for legal status can be done by illegal aliens - it just doesn't pay well.
"Undocumented Mexicans receive effectively no wage premium for working in dangerous settings, whereas most other groups – including legal Mexican immigrants, and native whites, blacks and Hispanics – do," says Matthew Hall, assistant professor of policy analysis and management in Cornell's College of Human Ecology, who wrote a paper in International Migration Review with Penn State's Emily Greenman.
They report: "Undocumented workers are rewarded less for employment in hazardous settings, receiving low or no compensating differential for working in jobs with high fatality, toxic materials or exposure to heights ... legal status plays an important role in determining exposure to job hazard and in structuring the wage returns to risky work."
Their work focused on undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries and noted that the majority of Hispanic undocumented workers in the United States today are Mexican.
The social scientists discount popular claims that undocumented workers are engaged in the very most dangerous occupations – logging or mining, to name jobs with the most fatalities according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regulatory oversight of extremely hazardous workplaces keeps undocumented workers away from risky-but-remunerative jobs – shuffling them to the margins, where danger also lurks. Agricultural workers can be maimed in farm equipment; day-labor construction workers fall from heights every day, they report.
Data analyzed by the social scientists come from the U.S. Census' Survey of Income and Program Participation, which includes information on citizenship and visa status; the Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
Hall and Greenman highlighted language barriers to safety training, writing: "Employment in the construction industry, low likelihood of receiving safety training (due both to language barriers and reduced employer incentives to train temporary workers), employers flouting safety regulations with little fear of being reported by their undocumented employees, and severe economic pressures" force the undocumented to take less desirable jobs.