Refugees Fill Job Gaps As More Americans Fail Drug Tests
Employers are turning their attention to refugees, a group Donald Trump has committed to shutting out, as more American workers test positive for illegal drug use. The percentage of Americans failing drug tests has climbed steadily to its highest level in a decade in part by the legalization of recreational marijuana in certain states and rural America's heroin epidemic, CNN reports.
At least 40 refugees from Syria to Bhutan have filled in gaps at Sterling Technologies, a plastic molding company located near Lake Erie, due to this ongoing issue. "Twenty percent of the people are failing," the company's president Cary Quigley revealed. "We're seeing positive tests anywhere from marijuana through amphetamines, right all the way through crystal meth and heroin."
According to Shannon Monnat, a rural sociology professor at Penn State University, Erie, Pa. has lost over half its manufacturing jobs since the 1980s as the city faces rising rates of drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related deaths.
"When business owners are telling you that they can't find native residents who will do these jobs, or they can't find enough people in the community to pass a drug test, what are they to do?" she said. "They need to seek out employees somewhere. And for now, immigrants are a really good source of that labor."
Erie County cemented its support for Trump in November, but parting ways with their refugee-powered workforce amid his ongoing crackdown on immigration is not something Sterling Technologies' management wants or can even afford to do. "Do I want to see all of my people deported? Absolutely not. They're a part of this company. They've helped build this company," Quigley said.
"Our goal is to continue to grow the company. We can't grow the company without people that want to do the work."