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The ongoing discussion about immigrant rights and treatment in the U.S. has been in the news and media for ages, yet there is not enough action that has been taken to make a change. The recent collapse of the Baltimore Bridge highlights the dangerous working conditions that immigrants are continually placed in. For centuries, immigrant labor has been used to advance America’s infrastructure without proper credit and respect. The Baltimore Bridge collapse revealed that immigrants are the victims of this country’s failure to properly protect and value them. 

The bridge collapse unfortunately resulted in six deaths. All six men who died were fixing potholes on the bridge for an independent contracting company called Brawner Builders, and all of the men who died were of Latin American descent. Statistics show that mining, logging, agriculture and construction are some of the riskiest jobs, with a higher number of immigrant workers on these sites. The men who were fixing potholes in the middle of the night paid with their lives due to these risky conditions, and they were not the first. 

In general, workplace injuries are underreported, making the problem even more urgent.  The immigrants who work in high-risk environments are not being protected, which is an injustice. A major part of why these injuries are underreported is because those who are not in America legally are scared of losing their jobs and sources of income. Thus, they are forced to protect their job security by neglecting their own basic needs. This issue should be a public priority, and safeguards should be in place to prevent these workplace injuries, especially for immigrant workers who are not able to speak up for themselves. Citizenship status should not affect the amount of legal protection and worker’s rights these individuals receive. Everyone, especially those in vulnerable positions, should have access to the best work conditions and legal protections possible. 

Immigrants have been and continue to be the backbone of this country’s infrastructure. Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, immigrants from places such as China, Germany, Ireland and Italy were all involved in major projects, such as the transcontinental railroad and the Brooklyn Bridge. While building the transcontinental railroad, bosses withheld food rations and used the threat of violence to force Chinese workers to accept their working conditions. 

The misrepresentation and mistreatment of workers have been overlooked for centuries. America profits off of immigrant work without giving them the credit and respect that they deserve for the unwavering time and effort they put into advancing this nation. 

In an effort to improve dangerous conditions for people working in professions like construction, especially for immigrant workers, there should be more programs to advocate for those who are not in a position to advocate for themselves. The Baltimore Bridge collapse is just another wake-up call for America to improve their working conditions for immigrants and actively put forth effort to create a safer environment.