Thursday, March 30, 2006
Mexican boom town.. in Wyoming?
How many people would have guessed that a small county in Wyoming would have one of the fastest growing populations of Mexican immigrants?

We were surprised and that's why we traveled to Teton County, Wyoming, to check it out.

Between 1990 and 2005, there was a 1,700 percent increase in the number of Mexicans who live here. Why? Jobs, lots of jobs.

Teton County is the home of the posh Jackson Hole ski resort, and as the resort has grown, so has the need for workers. Many of the more menial jobs -- some like housekeeping that can pay up to $15 an hour -- are not attracting any interest from the locals, so word of mouth keeps bringing Mexicans here.

Mexicans were 1 percent of the population in 1990. Now, they are nearing 20 percent. Even in springtime, it is cold and snowy here, but many of the Mexicans tell us they have learned to enjoy the climate and especially, the people.

Although there is occasional grumbling from old timers here, relations between the natives and the Mexicans appear to be quite good. There are certainly many illegal immigrants here, but there are also those who are here legally, including some who have become U.S. citizens.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 9:07 AM ET
  10 Comments
When did American's get the idea that "menial" jobs paying $15 bucks an hour is not good enough for them, but OK for harder working Mexicans ? How much money do American citizens expect to make when they don't bother educating themselves, are late to work, and complain non-stop about how bad they got it when they do bother to show up at the job site.
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 9:51 AM ET
In today's American society, people make more money then ever. The majority of the population do not want to work, many do not have to work, and those who do work take little or no pride in the result of the finished job. Mexican workers that I have known in my lifetime have a work ethic that exceeds any American doing the same job. They need the money they earn to live, and they take pride in their work so they can continue at their jobs. They work faster, harder, and longer hours too. If Americans are "too good" for these "menial" jobs, then if not immigrants, who's going to do them? We can demoralize these jobs all we want, but if it weren't for these hardworking immigrants, they would never get done. It takes every piece of the puzzle to maintain a business, and if the "small jobs" go unattended, these companies and business would not be what they are. If they want to work, let them, because most of us sure don't.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, West Chester, PA : 9:51 AM ET
I have worked in this Mexican boom town of Jackson for over 16 years, and as an employer who's housekeeping staff is 100% Hispanic, I can tell you that the locals and the transient skiers are not interested in menial labor jobs.

As most of the employers do - we pay based on the job to be done - not based on the applicant that fills the job - so no, we don't take advantage of their nationality, nor do we take jobs from so-called American citizens. The hispanic community in this boom town is for the most part hard working, friendly, and honest.

By the way, that was a great show last night.
Posted By Anonymous Robin, Jackson, WY : 10:25 AM ET
What more can a community ask for? People who are hard working and want to contribute to society. The couple you interviewed last evening seemed to love Wyoming - even the weather. Legal or illegal these people are part of the American fabric. Where would our work force be without them? Good show last night ... I came away with a deeper understanding of the issue. Thanks 360.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 10:30 AM ET
The main reason these people keep coming, "WORK". No one else wants these menial jobs and people are willing to hire.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry T Dallas, Texas : 10:37 AM ET
$15.00 an hour for dumping a few trash cans and making a few beds? Sounds better than slinging burgers in a fast food resturant at minimum wage...and millions of Americans are willing to do that!

To say Americans don't want those menial jobs is a bunch of bull. There are enough ethnically challanged people in our own socity that would love one.

Granted, most of them would have to be taught to make a bed and not to dump the trash on the front lawn...but with the proper training...
Posted By Anonymous Fliptrx, St. Louis, Mo. : 1:11 PM ET
My family owns a company in Jackson Hole and I spend a lot of time in Teton and the surrounding counties.

The permanent population is small and hasn't never been able to provide enough labor for the area in any season. High school and college kids flock to Jackson in the summer for temporary jobs, but most are unwilling to do "menial" labor as they view it to be beneath them or they take those jobs and do lousy work because they don't have any integrity.

We'd much rather hire someone who needs and wants the work and won't leave at the end of the summer. We only hire people legally but I understand the employers who do hire undocumented workers.

The program was thoughtful and well done, thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Logan UT : 6:00 PM ET
I think it's great that Mexican immigrants have found a refuge where they will not be grossly mistreated. Too often they find themselves working for under minimum wage because employers exploit them knowing that they are illegal. However, this does say a lot about Americans. $15 an hour is twice what i make, granted I am only a teenager, but I still don't consider $15/hr menial.
Posted By Anonymous Emma Russell, Downingtown, PA : 7:00 PM ET
Our country's biggest problem is our social programs and welfare. Tens of millions of people avoid work with AFDC, food stamps, Social Security Disability payments, welfare, etc. Elimination of these giveaway programs would create a huge low wage labor pool that would eliminate the need for us to import 27 million guest workers and save the government hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Some lower wage earners might even decide to work two or three jobs just like the rest of us! It is a fallacy that people can't make ends meet on minimum wage jobs. They can. People that need more income can either start working 70 hours a week or quit complaining. Americans are just a bunch of whiners these days.
Posted By Anonymous John, Middletown, IN : 1:19 PM ET
WE ARE ALL GOING TO BE VERY SORRY IN THE END. WE ARE IMPORTING POVERTY.
Posted By Anonymous Bryan L. Savoy, Ma : 1:13 PM ET
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