Democratic congressman says undocumented immigrants are good for “mowing our beautiful lawns”

A Democratic Congressman said that undocumented immigrants were useful for mowing “beautiful lawns” while speaking at a coffee shop in his New Jersey district on Tuesday.

Representative Tom Malinowski, the elected House official for New Jersey’s 7th district, said that the public needs to think about the jobs immigrants take.

“We have to think about the jobs, right. Because the reason this happens is there there are a lot of jobs in our community that like it or not, for better or worse, Americans are not willing to take. Who do you think is taking care of our seniors? Fifty percent of the elder care workers in the state of New Jersey are immigrants. Most of them legal, most of them documented. But certainly some who are not,” Malinowski said in video of the event shot by The Washington Examiner.

“Who do you think is mowing our beautiful lawns in Somerset County? We don’t usually ask, but a lot of those workers are undocumented. There are just not a lot of kids, sorry, from Montgomery High who are going to be doing that full time,” he said, evoking some laughs from the crowd at Cafe Brio. “You guys are going into robotics, for goodness sakes,” he said.

A worker at Cafe Brio confirmed to Newsweek that the Congressman, who is facing a re-election challenge in 2020, had held an event at the Hillsborough shop on Tuesday. Malinowski’s office did not immediately respond when contacted by Newsweek.

The median household income in Somerset County between 2013 and 2017, in 2017 dollars, was $106,046.

New Jersey had 475,000 undocumented immigrants in 2016, making it the state with the 5th-highest population of undocumented individuals, according to an estimate from Pew Research Center. The Migration Policy Institute says that the state has 526,000 undocumented immigrants and that 39 percent are from Central America and Mexico.

In 2017, approximately 10.5 million undocumented immigrants lived in the U.S., and about 7.6 million are in the labor force, according to Pew Research Center. Undocumented immigrants are heavily concentrated in certain industries. They comprise more than half the hired labor on farms. In 2017, Pew found that 16 percent of undocumented immigrant workers held jobs in construction. Many undocumented immigrants also work in the service industry.

But experts have said that because of their immigration status in the country, undocumented are often less able to challenge employer abuses. They can face wage theft, work long hours in poor conditions and face threats of firing if they complain.

*story by NewsWeek