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Monday, April 13, 2009 

Sunday April 12th, 2009. Deming, NM.. Warmer. Windy.
Off day for Easter. The Border Patrol is everywhere here in southern New Mexico. It’s 28 miles to the nearest border crossing at Columbus, NM. In a terrible economy with unemployment continuing to climb I wonder how much worse the numbers can get before the whole notion of legal workers versus undocumented alien workers becomes a moot point? Will things get so bad that all foreign workers are viewed negatively because so many actual Americans are unemployed? Will that be a problem for circuses and carnivals where we depend on public perception and good will (a lesson we’re reminded of regularly in the debate over animals) and where we employ so much foreign labor under the H2B Visa program? The H2B program has been the primary source of labor for many shows for a generation now. Guest workers are honest, hard working, and they rarely blow the show. It’s a big difference from the labor forced recruited in missions and homeless shelters in the 1960s and 1970s. When asked why more domestic workers aren’t on tent crews or working in concessions most show managers will honestly state that reliable domestic workers don’t want the job. Circus hours and circus wages don’t look as good as working at 7-11. It’s not exactly an accurate argument. What foreign workers bring to the table is the screening process. Shows pay for foreign labor. Recruiters screen for reliability, and the INS further screen background. Few shows have ever tried actually tried hiring an agency to find domestic workers with good work habits and backgrounds. I don’t know that we can say for sure if such domestic help could be found, or not. What’s worrisome is that if unemployment hits 10% and domestic workers start to regularly seek jobs frequently filled by H2B workers, there will be political pressure to reduce the size of the program, and for circuses and carnivals there may be pressure on the community level to hire American if we intend to play a town. Hopefully unemployment will begin to go down and the economy will improve and such a possibility will never become a real issue. After twenty many tent bosses, concessions managers, and midway bosses would be hard pressed to work with English speaking crews. And frankly many of today’s workers are actually related to their bosses. For now it’s just something to think about, sitting on the border. But if the economy doesn’t improve in future seasons we might have to consider a "Plan B."
Great holiday feast prepared by Robin Dykes.

I had always assumed that our American boys didn't want the hard work and travel of the circus. Too hoity-toity, our young men are. Above such things. Yet they'll go work on barges (my 19 year old son does). Doesn't make sense to me.

Is there even a way to recruit American workers? Or is it just easier to do what's been being done "for a generation?"

Questions to ponder.

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