Im­mi­grants find a fi­nan­cial boost in U.S.

But many do so by work­ing shifts Amer­i­cans won’t

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Tracy Jan

Like many im­mi­grants, money drew Kazi Man­nan to the United States. Mak­ing enough to sup­port his fa­ther and nine sib­lings in Pak­istan meant not only do­ing the jobs many Amer­i­cans shun but also work­ing the hours many Amer­i­cans won’t.

So the day af­ter he ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in 1996, Man­nan be­gan work­ing the grave­yard shift — 6 p.m. un­til 8 a.m. — as a gas sta­tion cashier, seven nights a week for $2.50 an hour.

Man­nan’s ex­pe­ri­ence is re­peated to­day among the 5.5 mil­lion for­eign-born work­ers in the United States who work even­ings, overnights and week­ends, ac­count­ing for a quar­ter of the im­mi­grants in the la­bor force.

Im­mi­grants are 15.7 per­cent more likely to work these “off” hours than Amer­i­can-born work­ers, ac­cord­ing to a study to be re­leased last week. They are 25.2 per­cent more likely to cover weekend shifts — com­pared with na­tive-born work­ers with sim­i­lar de­mo­graphic char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as ed­u­ca­tion level, lo­ca­tion and whether they are mar­ried or have chil­dren.

The re­port by New Amer­i­can Econ­omy, a na­tional busi­ness coali­tion founded by for­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, used Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics and cen­sus data to an­a­lyze the work­ing hours of im­mi­grants com­pared with their U.s.-born coun­ter­parts.

Im­mi­grants are con­sid­er­ably more likely to work un­usual hours across a va­ri­ety of oc­cu­pa­tions at the low- and high-skilled ends of the la­bor spec­trum, the re­port found.

Take a man­u­fac­turer that op­er­ates a fac­tory 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Jeremy Rob­bins, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of New Amer­i­can Econ­omy.

“You need work­ers work­ing overnight,” Rob­bins said. “If you can’t get peo­ple to work overnight, those day jobs aren’t go­ing to ex­ist, ei­ther.”

The re­port comes at a po­lit­i­cally charged time in the de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has es­poused a “Hire Amer­i­can” rhetoric. Congress is re­view­ing the mer­its of var­i­ous visas.

Plenty of Amer­i­can-born work­ers also work un­usual hours. But they tend to grav­i­tate to­ward sec­tors that re­quire English flu­ency and high lev­els of cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion, such as restau­rant wait staff, re­tail sales or bar­tend­ing, the re­port said. Im­mi­grants on night or weekend shifts are more likely to work as jan­i­tors and maids or as con­struc­tion and agri­cul­tural la­bor­ers.

Among higher-skilled work­ers, im­mi­grants play a large role in fill­ing odd­hour jobs in health care, ed­u­ca­tion and li­brary ser­vices.

That is es­pe­cially true among women. Women are 24.2 per­cent more likely than sim­i­lar Amer­i­can­born women to work such hours.

Im­mi­grant health care prac­ti­tion­ers, such as physi­cians, phar­ma­cists and nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, are 20.6 per­cent more likely to work nights and week­ends, while im­mi­grant health care sup­port work­ers, such as nurs­ing as­sis­tants, home health aides and or­der­lies, are 16.8 per­cent more likely to take such shifts.

Man­nan was 26 when he ar­rived in the United States. Af­ter six months of work­ing overnight as a gas sta­tion cashier, he was re­warded with a day sched­ule but con­tin­ued work­ing nights for ex­tra pay. Within a year, he was man­ag­ing three gas sta­tions for his em­ployer, who also trained him as a me­chanic and spon­sored his work visa.

“They com­pletely re­lied on me. All day and night, what­ever they needed, I was there,” Man­nan said. “I was des­per­ate to make enough money. I came from ex­treme poverty. I wanted to change my sit­u­a­tion, and there was no other way to change it but by work­ing.”

He started his own car ser­vice, and in 2013 he opened Sak­ina Halal Grill, a Pak­istani-in­dian restau­rant in down­town Wash­ing­ton, D.C., named af­ter his late mother. His two busi­nesses pro­vide jobs for more than 30 peo­ple.

The 47-year-old fa­ther of three sons con­tin­ues work­ing long hours, fill­ing in as chef, waiter — what­ever role needs to be filled when his em­ploy­ees quit, be­come ill or take va­ca­tions.

“I am now part of this Amer­i­can so­ci­ety as an im­mi­grant con­tribut­ing to this coun­try,” Man­nan said. “The ma­jor­ity of im­mi­grants have the same goals — to work hard and bring pros­per­ity to their fam­i­lies. Keep im­mi­gra­tion if you want to keep Amer­ica great.”

Marvin Joseph, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Kazi Man­nan, owner of Sak­ina Halal Grill, is an im­mi­grant from Pak­istan. He came to Amer­ica to es­cape poverty and be­gan by work­ing the grave­yard shift as a gas sta­tion cashier.

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