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Perspective: Who Really Does Our Hard Work?

Mario Ohibsky

An interesting thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I was out working on the new home my wife and I are building in the Stateline area while the framing crew was finishing framing out our house. There were lots of conversations going on between crew members, most of which I could not understand as I was in the minority. They were speaking Spanish, which I don’t understand. A couple of days later, the roofing crew showed up, and the same thing happened-most conversations were in Spanish. It was not unsettling for me, though, unlike the unenlightened things I would have thought 25 to 30 years ago.

I have no idea if any of these men were undocumented; but I do know that I don’t care what their immigration status is. What I also do know is that these guys are all skilled tradesmen working in what are often brutally hard conditions. If you think putting on a roof, or pouring concrete or framing a building is easy, try it on a hot and humid day and see how you hold up. Then do it day after day after day.

Had these guys not risked life and limb to come to the U.S. under what are often horrendous circumstances, my little building project couldn’t be completed. Nor yours. What many Americans consider “crap” jobs not worth doing are the same jobs new immigrants take that help make life sustainable. I for one am indebted to them.

I’m Andrew Nelson and that’s my Perspective.

Andrew Nelson has been involved in public education in northern Illinois for more than three decades.