Is it illegal to be an immigrant?


5. The illegal labor market

This chapter concentrates on the area of ​​illegal employment of foreigners, which puts the aspects of illegal border crossing and residence into the background; For illegal migrations that primarily take place for non-economic reasons (e.g. flight, family reunification), the following considerations are therefore irrelevant.

The analysis is based on the assumption of an unregulated (illegal) labor market, consisting of providers (illegally employed foreigners) and buyers (employers) of the good work. Suppliers and buyers try to realize their respective maximum cost-benefit calculation in this market. [The authors owe some valuable suggestions for this chapter to two conversations with Mr. Hans von L pke (Federal Labor Office) and Mr. Leo Monz (DGB, Migration Department), to whom at this point for Thank you very much for your willingness to talk. In addition, the following remarks are based on Borjas (1990) and Heckmann / Lederer (1997). Steineck (1994: 167ff.) Presented an economically oriented decision-making model for illegal immigration. Furthermore, reference is made to Jahn (1997), who analyzed the interest and incentive structures of those involved in illegal employment.]
The illegal employment of foreigners

thus shows a content-related relationship to the phenomenon of general illicit work in many areas.

5.1 The demand for labor

Despite the economic crisis and high unemployment, there is a demand for workers outside of the regular labor market in certain areas and sectors on the German labor market. This employment must have the following characteristics in order to be "suitable" for the illegal labor market (cf. Deutscher Bundestag 1992, ders. 1996):

  • It is about work that does not require a lengthy familiarization phase; high staff turnover must be manageable without problems, and it must be easy to replace the illegal workforce.
  • The employment is often temporary or seasonal.
  • Knowledge of the German language plays a rather subordinate role; it is therefore mostly physical work.
  • Usually auxiliary or temporary workers are sought, which is why a low level of qualification is often sufficient. [We are still looking for qualified skilled workers for certain manual activities and in construction.]

In addition, traditions often already exist in the relevant sectors and with inquiring employers in the area of ​​illegal and informal work (agreements); For example, in the construction and craft sector, employment contracts were only concluded orally for a long time. As a result, semi-legal and illegal practices gain increased acceptance.

Due to the employer's interest in minimizing costs in the production of a good or a service, there is an interest that the labor factor is acquired as cheaply as possible. In the Federal Republic of Germany, collective bargaining, labor and social law regulations guarantee minimum standards in the area of ​​wages, occupational health and safety and certain social benefits. Collective agreements thus set the lower limit of wage competition in many sectors; the good work is no longer available at a certain price. Overall, this makes regular work more expensive than on an unregulated labor market.

Some of the job seekers try to unlawfully minimize their (wage) costs by recruiting staff from the illegal labor market. They then neither have to pay the full collective wage, social benefits and taxes, nor are they responsible for the minimum labor standards that cause costs; the labor factor is greatly reduced in price compared to competitors who adhere to the existing law. In their cost-benefit calculation, the possibility of a punishment - in the event of discovery - for illegal employment of foreigners must also be included.

If the sanctions on the part of the state are mild, this will certainly not lead employers to abandon the illegal practices. [A discussion of the effectiveness of state control instruments and sanctions can be found in Steineck (1994: 173ff.).]

In principle, all economic institutions that have a need for workers that meet the above criteria can be considered as buyers. In addition to the manufacturing industry and service companies, temporary employment companies and so-called subcontractors are the main buyers. In addition, there is also a great need for cheap labor in the agricultural sector and in private households.

5.2 The supply of labor

On the other hand, demand is offset by supply in the form of people who are ready to meet this need for labor. In view of the passenger transport capacities that have developed in recent years and the fact that global distances can be covered in the shortest possible time for ever smaller sums of money, the group of potentially eligible people is expanding. These people are interested in getting a job and income at all, as there are very high unemployment rates in many parts of the world.

The main reasons for this migration process are the economic differences between the Western European countries and the Eastern European, Asian, South American and African countries; The wage gap and the differences in purchasing power are the decisive incentives (see, inter alia, Wallace / Chmouliar / Sidorenko 1995: 58ff.). In the Federal Republic of Germany, wages that are far below the collective bargaining agreement receive high purchasing power after a currency exchange in the migrants' home country. This makes the (relatively) low wages and poor working conditions acceptable to the migrants. Due to the lower labor costs, these immigrants gain a strategic competitive advantage over locals (Germans and foreigners who are equivalent to them under labor law) on the German labor market (Vogel 1996a: 14f.).

The supply of labor on the labor market can be characterized as follows:

  • The group of illegally resident migrants has only low entitlements in terms of pay due to the wage difference mentioned above; a below-standard wage is perfectly acceptable for them. [The S ddeutsche Zeitung reports, for example, of Ukrainians who were employed on construction sites in Hamburg for an hourly wage of less than two marks (April 15, 1996).]
  • In addition, an employee on the illegal labor market must be flexible and adaptable with regard to the type of employment, working conditions, working hours, etc.
  • The migrants have to be spatially mobile to a high degree in two respects: on the one hand with regard to the journey to the labor market and also often within the federal territory, since employment of this kind is not always offered anywhere.

Whether and to what extent the immigrants meet these requirements also depends on the respective cultural, historical and economic background.

If migrants who are willing to migrate, mostly from third countries that require a visa, set off on their way, they encounter the migration barriers set up by Western European countries (legal and institutional obstacles, police border surveillance, etc.). For immigrants, this means that additional risks and costs are accepted in order, for example, to cross the state border with professional help or to obtain a forged residence document (see, inter alia, Borjas 1990: 57). With this, the migrants put themselves in the hands of smugglers and smugglers and thus often in fatal dependencies; Numerous immigrants have to go into debt and sometimes have to work off these liabilities in the destination country for years. [This system can definitely be compared with the so-called "indentured service" that was practiced during the early settlement of the USA. The immigrants had to compulsorily work off the costs for the crossing to America (cf. Heckmann 1992: 65).]
A profitable trade with people (migration market) has developed in which smugglers' organizations, illegal employment agencies and other illegal forms of organization play a central role. It has also become known that smuggling organizations try to "stimulate" the supply by targeting recruiters in the countries of origin concerned (Müller-Schneider 1997).

The following factors are included on the cost side in the individual cost-benefit calculation of the workers concerned: travel costs, possible smuggling fees, housing costs, possible fees for illegal job placement, living costs in the event of possible unemployment, etc. Also possible penalties for illegal work must be taken into account . It is questionable whether the cost side is realistically anticipated and calculated in all cases of voluntary migration. This is offset by the hoped-for benefit, the monetary income from illegal employment in the target country. For some, the enrichment of personal experience as well as the travel experience should also be posted on the non-monetary credit side.

5.3 The illegal and the regulated labor market

In all labor markets - including the illegal one - work is traded for wages. In the regulated labor market, free pricing for the good work is restricted by legal regulations and collective wage agreements. The black market for foreign workers, which is controlled neither by the collective bargaining parties nor by the state, has no such restrictions, so that wages are freely determined through the interplay of supply and demand.

The prerequisite for the functioning of this market is that supply and demand can also come together locally. For EU-Europeans who are illegally in the Federal Republic

Working in Germany, access to this labor market is largely possible without any obstacles. As mentioned, migrants from outside the EU have to accept higher costs for access (transport costs, smuggling fees).

The illegal labor market is also characterized by the fact that the supply of work exceeds the demand. The result of this oversupply of labor is that the good labor is traded on these markets at very low prices. Because of this structural imbalance in the market, the customers are in a much better strategic position than the employees.

As already stated, illegal labor sub-markets have only been able to establish themselves in certain economic sectors. In the construction and ancillary trades, the prerequisites for the creation of a market are met (short training periods, seasonal workload, tradition of illegal practices, dispensability of German language skills), so that forms of illegal foreign employment could arise there.

Other focal points of illegal foreign employment are the areas of building and industrial cleaning, the hotel and restaurant industry, agriculture and forestry, viticulture, the transport industry and the entertainment industry (cf., among others, the German Bundestag 1992). In addition, illegal work is carried out by foreign migrants in private households (housework, cleaning, kitchen work, raising children, renovations, care for the elderly and the sick) (cf., among others, Vogel 1996b: 9).

If one follows the information of the Federal Employment Service, the illegal employment of foreigners is more common in large urban centers than in rural regions; within the Federal Republic of Germany there are regionally different priorities.

The illegal labor market can be characterized as follows with regard to the regional origin of the foreign employees:

  • Illegal workers from Central and Eastern Europe represent a large group. In some cases, illegal practices occur in the wake of contract workers or people from this area who have come illegally for the purpose of taking up work.
  • Many illegally employed foreigners come from within the European Union. Your stay is completely legal, but there are many types of illegal employment (Deutscher Bundestag 1996: 34ff.). [Mention should be made here of internationally operating bogus companies, especially from the Netherlands and Great Britain, such as the so-called Koppellbaazen and so-called craftsmen's societies (Deutscher Bundestag 1996: 34ff.); the Federal Labor Office currently knows 400 to 450 such relevant companies.]
  • In quantitative terms, far less significant than the two groups mentioned are illegal workers from outside Europe; These are, for example, asylum seekers or students who live in the Federal Republic of Germany and who violate existing labor law. Organized forms of illegal job placement occur with this group of people - in comparison to the first two

    mentioned groups - rather seldom, they tend to be singular legal violations.

What is new about this labor market is that it is no longer a nationally restricted market, but internationally intertwined (illegal) migration labor markets are emerging. These have an inherent dynamic which, in turn, creates illegal immigration and illegal employment. These newly created markets can only be controlled and prevented very inadequately by the policies of the nation states - also in view of increased market deregulation at national and international level (Müller-Schneider 1995, Heckmann / Lederer 1997).

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | May 2000