Recently, FleetOwner, a magazine that is targeted at executives and managers who work in the trucking industry, published an informative, thought-provoking piece on the immense impact that immigrants are making in commercial trucking. Indeed, according to the reporting, immigrants have become a critical part of this industry, yet the executives at the big trucking companies are hesitant to talk about that fact in public.
Trucking Companies are Successfully Recruiting Immigrants
The data is clear: Immigrants comprise a key demographic in American commercial trucking. According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 1.2 million long-haul truck drivers currently working in the United States. Of this number, 225,000 of those drivers, or nearly 19 percent, are immigrants. To put this figure into the proper perspective, only around 12 percent of all U.S. residents are foreign born. This means that immigrants are significantly overrepresented in the commercial trucking sector. Due to the age distribution of truck drivers, industry analysts expect the number of immigrants employed in trucking to grow further in the coming years.
Notably, immigrant truck drivers are extremely diverse; they have origins all over the globe. The largest share of immigrants in the American commercial trucking industry (32 percent) comes from Mexico. Though, many other countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, China, India, Poland and the Ukraine are all represented, as well. Immigrants in the trucking industry, much like immigrants in general, are not evenly distributed across the country. Indeed, in the state with the highest percentage of immigrant truck drivers, California, nearly 47 percent of all truckers are foreign born. That compares to 27 percent of California’s total population that is foreign born. In Southern California, the percentage of immigrant truck drivers is even higher than that. Clearly, the trucking industry, which is one of the most important industries in our country, could not function without the impressive contributions of immigrant labor.
Who Are the Immigrants Who are Filling the American Skills Gap?
In 2016, Public Radio International (PRI) filed a report highlighting some of the immigrant truckers who are supporting the industry. Similar to the FleetOwner report, PRI found that many trucking companies are having difficulty finding new drivers who have the skills to fill the positions that they have open. In their story, PRI sent a reporter to a truck stop that is located about 50 miles to the east of downtown Los Angeles. The truck stop, which is just off of the road on Interstate-10, is one of the busiest in the entire country. There, the PRI reporter noted that the multinational nature of the commercial trucking industry was immediately readily apparent. The reporter found many different workers, of many different backgrounds, hauling all kinds of goods all over the country. In some cases, immigrant truck drivers have considerable experience operating similar vehicles in their native land. In other cases, the immigrant drivers first entered the industry when they came to the U.S., looking to find the best way to make a living and support their family.
Why are Trucking Executives Keeping their Immigrant Recruitment Efforts Quiet?
Long considered to be an industry that is lacking in diversity, commercial trucking firms have gone to great lengths to publicize the fact that their industry is becoming more diverse. Indeed, as the number of women who are employed as truck drivers slowly rises, companies have proudly touted that fact to the general public. Yet, as the number of immigrants rises, the big truck companies are keeping the fact quiet. What is going on? According to some industry observers, they believe this is an effort to keep truck drivers from organizing. Without vigorous labor organization, it will be difficult for drivers to fight for higher wages. If trucking company managers can keep immigrants feeling uneasy in their working community, they may be able to prevent labor organization and keep immigrant wages below the market standard. This is certainly an unacceptable reason; immigrant truck drivers have a legal right to fair wages, regardless of their national origin.
We Support Immigrants in L.A.
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., we understand the vital contributions that immigrants make to our national and local economy. If you or a loved one needs immigration help, our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are standing by, ready to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us today by calling (213) 514-8870 or emailing us through our website. We serve communities throughout the Los Angeles region, including Pasadena, Downey, Torrance, Inglewood and Santa Monica.