The United States of America is home to a significant number of immigrants, accounting for more than 11% of the world’s immigrant population. However, due to the current political climate, immigrants without legal papers have become a prominent topic of discussion. It’s important to understand that even without proper documentation, these individuals still have opportunities to find employment. Some companies have found ways to integrate them into society and compensate them for their work.
Nonprofit organizations also play a crucial role in helping newly arrived immigrants secure jobs and providing them with resources to adapt to their new lives in the U.S. While it is possible for immigrants without legal papers to find employment, they often have to settle for low-paying jobs due to limited options available to them.
Jobs for Immigrants without Legal Papers
Most jobs available for immigrants without legal papers do not offer competitive salaries. It’s a mutual understanding that without proper documentation, individuals lack bargaining power. Here are some job options that undocumented immigrants can consider in the United States.
##1. Construction Workers
Construction and manufacturing companies often hire immigrants without legal papers because they can provide valuable services at a lower cost. Although the pay in these fields isn’t typically high, these immigrants enjoy job security and receive regular income. Approximately 40% of construction workers on sites across the U.S. are estimated to be undocumented immigrants. Construction companies opt to overlook their legal status to keep costs down for their clients. While U.S.-born construction workers earn an average salary of $38,538 per year, immigrants without legal papers earn an average of $27,000 annually.
Housekeeping is another job widely available for undocumented immigrants, particularly among immigrant families working in the hospitality industry. Becoming a housekeeper requires significant training and financial investment, which many immigrants may not have. In some cases, undocumented workers may receive lower pay compared to their legally documented counterparts due to their lack of experience. However, certain hotels do not check immigration status when hiring housekeepers because they already pay a low wage regardless of immigration status. Housekeepers earn an average of $14.53 per hour, while immigrants without legal papers may earn up to $2 less hourly.
##3. Farm Workers
A significant number of farm workers in the U.S. are not legally authorized to work due to a lack of proper documentation. Undocumented immigrants often fill these positions, enduring long hours and low wages. Since they are less skilled compared to immigrants in fields such as software engineering and medicine, they are more likely to accept low-paying jobs. Limited experience in other industries leaves them with few options for higher-paying employment. The average income for farm workers in the United States is $38,154.
Being a nanny is one of the most common jobs for immigrants without legal papers, given the increasing demand for their services. In the U.S., there are over 217,000 documented nannies, the highest number among any country. Wealthy families are willing to pay high hourly rates, often up to $100, for live-out nannies who not only care for children but also handle meal preparation. Nannies without legal papers earn between $9 and $13 per hour, significantly less than the average hourly rate of $20.85 for documented nannies.
There is a significant demand for caregivers in the United States, with over 1.1 million family members residing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. While some facilities provide caregivers with food and accommodation, many cannot afford to pay them enough to cover their living expenses. Undocumented immigrants seeking caregiver positions usually need previous experience as housekeepers or nannies, which may deter some individuals. Caregivers without legal papers earn between $8 and $11.82 per hour, lower than documented caregivers.
##6. Restaurant Workers
Undocumented immigrants can find employment in fast-food restaurants and diners, usually starting as dishwashers or busboys. An undocumented immigrant working in a restaurant may earn around $500 per month, significantly less than the average income of fast-food workers in the U.S. In certain states, immigrants may acquire licenses that allow them to serve alcohol, which can lead to higher earnings through tips.
##7. Garbage Collectors
With approximately 88,500 garbage collectors in the U.S., about 9.7% of them are undocumented immigrants. Limited employment options often lead immigrants to work as garbage collectors, despite the low pay. Undocumented immigrants in this field can earn between $23,750 and $29,870 per year. Although it’s higher compared to other jobs such as nanny, caregiver, farm worker, or restaurant employee, it is still below the average salary of documented workers, who earn over $36,612 yearly.
##8. Concession Attendants
Concession attendant is another suitable job for immigrants without legal papers. It doesn’t require extensive experience but offers moderate pay. Tasks may include working at small gas stations, cleaning public bathrooms, or selling food on hot summer days. This job is often among the first options for newly arrived immigrants without legal papers due to its minimal education requirements and no need for English language skills.
Janitorial work is one of the more common jobs for undocumented immigrants, despite its demanding nature, involving cleaning buildings under harsh conditions and night shifts. However, it is also one of the easiest jobs to obtain since it doesn’t require extensive English language skills, training, or experience. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, over 250,000 illegal immigrants work as janitors, indicating a high demand for janitorial services among employers willing to hire undocumented workers.
FAQs on Jobs for Undocumented Immigrants
Let’s now address some common questions regarding jobs for immigrants without legal papers in the United States.
###1. What is the difference between illegal immigration and immigration without papers?
Illegal immigrants come to the country in search of better opportunities and lives, using false documents like passports or fake Social Security cards. Despite their efforts, they are not considered legal workers due to their lack of valid credentials. On the other hand, immigration without papers refers to individuals who don’t have the proper documentation to work full-time or access social services. It doesn’t necessarily involve illegal activities but rather a lack of appropriate paperwork.
###2. What are some common jobs that undocumented immigrants do?
Common jobs for immigrants without legal papers include construction workers, waiters or waitresses, dishwashers or busboys, nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers.
###3. Do undocumented immigrants have rights?
Undocumented immigrants have certain rights and are protected by various laws. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from hiring workers without proper documentation. It is also illegal to use false documents or provide false information during the job application process. Although they are not allowed to work legally, they have the right to receive at least the minimum wage if they find employment.
In conclusion, undocumented immigrants without legal papers have limited job options in the United States. Many of them must settle for low-paying jobs without benefits. Garrity Traina is committed to providing resources and support to immigrants, regardless of their legal status. Visit Garrity Traina to learn more about our initiatives.