Seattle-based business, especially restaurants and other foodservice companies, are increasingly considering the hiring of illegal immigrants, sources say. Since the city of Seattle, Washington, passed an ordinance in 2014 which started moving the minimum wage to $15/hr, restaurants have had an increasingly difficult time paying staff wages. Small independent restaurants are being hit the hardest. “It is becoming increasingly hard to compete with the large chains like Denny’s or Applebees.” said one restaurateur on the condition of anonymity for fear of political retribution from city officials. “Since their food is shipped in already prepared and frozen, they can outsource their labor. But us little guys are stuck paying more for our staff”.
Many restaurant owners are now looking to hire illegal immigrants who are more willing to work for less than minimum wage while being paid cash. “Hiring Mexicans to do American work is just un-American!” said Normandy Park resident Phillip Turner. “The minimum wage law was passed by the people, for the people. If you want something different, you can move somewhere else, or you can petition to change the law”. Other residents weren’t so adamant: “I don’t care who they hire. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business- certainly not the government’s” said Cindy Lauer while sipping a hot espresso outside a downtown cafe. “We already are paying eight dollars for a [expletive] coffee. If coffee shops can find a way to keep it from becoming more expensive, who are you to complain?”
However you view the issue, illegal immigrants are becoming increasingly popular in Seattle kitchens. And, even though most are willing to work for less than the minimum wage, demand for cheap illegal labor is increasing and so are the wages that business owners are happy to pay to escape paying higher wages still for legal, American, labor.