Immigration has been one of the most passionately debated topics in the United States for well over a century. While people have various viewpoints on the best path to take regarding immigration, our personal experience has taught us that immigrants have had a positive impact, not only for our company, but for our entire geographic region.
All of Cattle Empire’s employees are legally authorized to live and work in the U.S.; however, we do not have information on the status of immediate family members who could be at risk should a significant shift in immigration enforcement occur. Moreover, changes in enforcement behaviors of regulating agencies would almost certainly have unintended consequences that could drive workers from the area and harm our regional economy.
With a local unemployment rate below 3 percent and companies (such as Cattle Empire) continually looking for more employees, it is clear that immigrants are not “taking jobs” from native-born Americans, but rather they are helping to fill open positions for which employees are needed to keep our economy thriving and growing.
Another side-effect of a low unemployment rate is increased competition among employers to attract employees to work at their business. This means that the rhetoric targeting the alleged exploitation of “cheap labor” by area businesses is simply false. At Cattle Empire, all our full-time employees are salaried, with the lowest starting salary beginning at approximately $30,000 for general labor positions. By and large, wages at Cattle Empire are extremely competitive relative to other businesses within our employment footprint. In addition to competitive pay, all employees have access to our full benefits package, which includes company-paid health insurance, matching 401k, paid time off and beef. A thriving economy lends itself not only to competition in the marketplace, but in the workplace as well. Immigrants or not, residents of Southwest Kansas have diverse and competitive employment options from which to choose.
Immigrants fill a wide variety of jobs, representing diverse skill sets. In this part of the world, there are many jobs that, though they may be very fulfilling, require hard work. The people of this area are equipped to fill those jobs across agriculture, construction and the oifield industry, fueled by the culture and customs of people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty to get a job done. This area-wide culture of strong work ethic is undoubtedly positively impacted by the influence of our immigrant neighbors. That influence is passed down from generation to generation and only makes us stronger as a community and paves the way for an even better future.
Lawmakers must take steps toward ensuring that immigration behaviors are enforced consistently across groups. Workers and their families must have access to a legitimate agricultural worker visa or other program that establishes their legal status. Once a status has been established, immigrants need access to improved paths to citizenship. At Cattle Empire, our employees (be they immigrants or not) are hardworking, trustworthy people who contribute to their communities and bring value to the local economy. Any change in the ways that our Federal Government enforce immigration will have an impact on the entire Kansas economy. Lawmakers should think about the consequences associated with ignoring the needs of some of the most important people in the agricultural industry.