Does MADE in the U.S.A. mean made by an American-born citizen?

The American media machine had waged an all-out campaign for more than a year to get Americans to buy products made in the United States, but who are we supporting when we pay more for these products?

For example, I live in California and buy most of my clothes from a clothing company that has several brick-and-mortar stores back east but not in my state. I cannot find the same quality and style of clothing from stores in my local area, so I buy from this company online.

In their most recent monthly catalog, they were selling the same product—100% cotton work jeans—from two different sources: one was imported and sold for about $50, and the second choice was made in the U.S.A selling for almost $80.

The wording in the catalog said, “Yes, they do cost more—a fact of life in today’s manufacturing world. But we know many will consider a USA-made option worth it.”

And I almost ordered the USA-made option to help support an American worker, but then I decided to discover how many American-born citizens worked in the U.S. garment industry.

To find out, I had to do some serious Google digging.

In 2006, NPR.org reported, “Nearly 12 million illegal immigrants are estimated to be living in the United States. The vast majority work in low-skill, low-wage jobs. More than half work in construction, manufacturing or leisure and hospitality.”

Then the Brookings Institution reported (worth clicking and reading) in 2010 that, “Immigrants are a growing part of the labor force (people with a job or looking for one), and in 2010 there were 23.1 million foreign-born persons in the civilian labor force, making up 16.4 percent of the total (and 12 million were illegal).”

Many of these legal/illegal immigrants work jobs American born citizens refuse to do. In fact, many American born citizens would rather be unemployed than work one of these jobs.

In addition, Immigration Online.org says, “Many workers from Mexico and Central American nations were entering the United States illegally in the hope of finding steady, permanent jobs that would permit them to stay. Many of these people found steady jobs in the Los Angeles garment industry … many U.S. employers were becoming dependent on undocumented workers, who were willing to work for lower pay than American workers.”

Tree Hugger.com reported, “Employment in the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry has declined by more than 80 percent (from about 900,000 to 150,000 jobs) over the past two decades.”

From UCLA.edu, I learned that, “In New York City’s Chinatown, three out of five women work in the garment industry, a backbone industry of the growing ethnic enclave economy. Most of these working women are new immigrants, married, and with school-aged and younger children. Day in and day out, they bend over row after row of sewing machines; they are surrounded by piles of fabric scarps, and they are sometimes with children, including toddlers and infants, clustered at their skirts.”

And Cultural Survival.org adds, “… more than half of the Latin American migrants to the U.S. are women searching for jobs as domestics or in light manufacturing such as garment or microelectronic factories … Not only must women migrants from Third World countries negotiate their way amidst racial and ethnic discrimination, they are also exploited because of their sex. As migrant workers they are confined to the low skill sector of the labor market. As females they are further restricted to the manual sector like sewing or child care.”

Discovering how many illegal immigrants work in manufacturing or the garment industry was a challenge, but the evidence I discovered indicates that most of the labor force in the American garment industry is made up of mostly illegal immigrant women, because skilled, educated legal immigrants are finding jobs in health care and high-tech manufacturing.

And what do most of these legal/illegal immigrant workers do with the money they earn working in the United States?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mexico reported—mostly from the U.S.—$13.7 billion for the first seven months of 2012. Salvadorians sent $2.6 billion home from January through August. Guatemalan expatriate’s remittances account for 12% of their country’s gross domestic product.”

And Latin America and the Caribbean received $69 billion in transfers in 2011 and this number is expected to increase 7 or 8% for 2012.

FACT: When money leaves the United States, it does not get spent in America!

Did you know that over a five-year period 2007 to 2011, almost 2,000 illegal immigrants died attempting to cross those southwest deserts and almost three million were caught and sent back home—something U.S. taxpayers paid for?

Does that mean buying “MADE in the U.S.A.” contributes to the deaths of illegal immigrants?

I have changed my mind. I will buy the work jeans that were imported and save thirty dollars and hopefully discourage an illegal immigrant from risking his or her life to sneak into the United States.

Discover more about America’s Lost Work Ethic and the Future Fate of the United States

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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