The Myth of the Dangerous Hispanic Guest Worker

Vern Scott
5 min readMay 19


Besides keeping America affordable and doing work disdained by the native born, Mexican and Central American guest workers pay more into entitlement programs than they receive, and are nice people too…

Wages for migrant workers are higher the further North of the border they travel, but they sometimes lack basic protections

There is a misleading and counterproductive myth being peddled by the demagogues of this Country, that of the dangerous Hispanic guest worker. Not only do these guest workers do about 20% of the hard work in this country, but they pay more into out tax system than they receive, commit proportionally lower crime, are generally God-fearing/family loving Catholics and are the guest workers Europe wishes they could have.

I first noticed this phenomenon in my California Central Valley high school existence. I elected to pick fruit one summer, as I realized that if I worked hard, I could make about three times the minimum wage paid at the fast food places. I was warned that the Mexicans I’d be working with were lazy, dirty, or dangerous, but I actually found them to be none of those things. In fact, they turned out to be outstanding people as they a) were very hard workers b) were always singing, telling jokes and laughing c) always shared their food, beer whatever they had d) appeared to go to church on Sunday and be very devoted to their families e) were trustworthy and f) had things withheld from their paychecks that they would never get back, like Social Security, SDI, and Medicare. When I returned to high school in the Fall, I contrasted this with the white kids whose Mommies and Daddies gave them cars while they did not even work over the summer. These were usually the kids demonizing the Hispanic workers the most. This was so incongruous that it became a sort of wall that I’ve carried to this day, why on earth would you hate on the good people that do all the work, and consequently where would our country be without these people?

First, there is the myth that Hispanic guest workers commit too many crimes. It is best to not be naïve about this, as there is indeed a criminal element among Hispanic immigrants, about which many Hispanic immigrants would explain. However many studies, including one by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute, report that illegal-immigrants commit crime at about half the rate of the native born. Furthermore, with guest-worker or amnesty programs for Hispanic workers, there is a golden opportunity for vetting these workers so as to reduce these numbers. (Nowrasteh, 2019)

Second, there is rather sad fact that illegal Hispanic guest workers are collectively doing about 20% of this nation’s work, and about 50% of the work that the native born do not wish to do (my own estimate). Per a 2016 Center for Economic Policy and Research study, Hispanic workers take about 17% of the overall jobs, and 27% of construction jobs. One obvious conclusion would be “if you think housing and food are expensive now, try pricing it without Hispanic guest workers”. Another conclusion might be “truly, the native-born should be given priorities for jobs, but then the numbers imply that Hispanic guest workers are taking jobs the native-born do not want”. I saw this in high school, when many of the white kids were too proud or lazy to take jobs that paid good money. The corollary here is that neither political party wants to address the 15% +- of the native born that don’t wish to work hard, opting for a life of lounging, grifting or doing drugs. This is because these people vote and no one wants to offend them, which in turn gives them a sort of license to complain about those who do work hard. (Bucknor, 2016)

Besides being humane, basic health standards for guest workers help keep disease from spreading, and perhaps make up for their paying into Social Security, and not getting any ultimate benefits

Next there is the issue of benefits for illegal immigrant workers. Truly, this is a problem, mostly in the form of Medicare/Medicaid usage. Illegal workers are often in rural areas with expensive out-patient facilities, and sometimes they bring their wives, get sick or have babies. They don’t have insurance, so they receive Medicaid (in our State) care at relatively great expense that the rest of us taxpayers must bear. However, according to New American Economy, illegals paid $13 billion/yr in Social Security and almost $3 billion/yr into Medicare in 2016. A recent article in Forbes states that illegals annually cost the Federal government $11 billion/yr in medical expense in 2016 (note here it is hard to get reliable numbers on this due to the “underground” nature of illegal workers). It would seem that “coming clean” with these workers would be the best policy, as guest and amnesty workers would be paying more into Social Security and Medicare, while paying copays and deductibles, and being guided to cheaper health facilities (perhaps part of a national health care plan). To let them get sick or die would be inhumane and inconsiderate, given their contributions (epidemic prevention is another consideration). Even if one doesn’t accept the previous statement, the “under the table” system would seem to net a $5 billion/yr gain for the US economy, since what we pay out in medical is less that what is paid in for Social Security and Medicare. In addition, this seems unfair and cruel but I guess in a bizarre way it is a kind of trade-off. (Ewing, et al, 2016)(Conover, 2016)

In the 70s, there were frequent immigration raids where migrant workers were sent home, ostensibly to protect American workers. The Trump administration conducted few immigration raids in California, leaving one to wonder if the former president was very aware of the devastating effect this would have on ag and business (two of his large constituents) and basically talking out of both sides of his mouth. Wouldn’t it be the best of both worlds to simply make the good workers part of an employers/workers guest worker contract, in which our nation gets tax dollars and the worker adequate protections, while the bad workers are sent home (perhaps with a tracking bracelet)?

Finally, Hispanic people are by and large fun-loving, caring, sharing, hard-working, god-fearing, terrorist-hating people. Think about the last part…despite all the misinformation, there have been no instances of religious terrorism associated with Hispanic guest workers. That is because they are Christians that love North America as much as the rest of us, just like when Mexico alerted President Roosevelt about insidious overtures from Hitler in WW II (heck, the song “La Bamba” comes from one of our munitions factories in Veracruz during that war). Would Germany trade their Turkish guest workers for ours? Would France trade their Algerians or Spain their Moroccans for ours? You betcha, in a second!



Vern Scott

Scott lives in the SF Bay Area and writes confidently about Engineering, History, Politics, and Health