Charles Grimes' business has employed illegal immigrants before.
He makes no apologies.
"We wouldn't really probably get the work done if we didn't have illegals over here working," he said.
He described it as the nature of the business, explaining his industry -- roofing -- wouldn't get business if it didn't have illegal immigrants here to provide labor.
Grimes owns Raintree Roofing Inc., which does business in Odessa and Midland. He has been in the business since 1991 and has around eight employees.
He said roofing has slowed in the area, but this year has started off a little better than last year.
"I didn't even draw a salary last year and broke even for the year, so roofers have gone other places to find work," he said. "I'm down to one crew and doing a roof, starting one (recently) here in Midland. I'm lucky to do a roof once a week."
A few years ago, all of his employees were legally allowed to work here. But this year, he has three employees who are not legal and lack documentation. He seems to worry about the matter, because one renter threatened to call immigration because she thought some illegal immigrants were working there.
"I've never had immigration check any job that I've done in the past 20 years," he said. "The fact that immigration (officials) may or may not come out there to this particular house because a renter calls them -- I don't know what the situation might be. But the threat of immigration coming out there has caused my guys to leave the job.
"I could go to another crew, but you really don't start one roof and then hire a different crew to come finish it," he said. "So that crew will somehow or another manage to find some help that will come finish it up under their direction, under their supervision."
Grimes hires a crew leader, who then hires his own people.
"That's pretty standard in the roofing industry in Midland-Odessa, unless you're in the commercial area, and then the commercial roofers tend to have paid, by-the-hour type people working for them," he said.
Grimes never knows whether his crew members are legal or illegal. He said his crew leader told him that a few workers would not stay if immigration officials paid a visit.
"Right now, there's just not enough to work to make sure that you've got guys who are all legal," Grimes said.
Grimes said when he started in the business, he had Anglos as crew members. Nowadays, for the last 15 years, he has only one or two Anglos who have been crew members. The rest have been Hispanic.
Grimes said someone told him immigration officials visited a street one time and "hauled off 30 or 40 people on her street" in one day.
Asking companies about their hiring practices or even talking about immigration reform with them can be a difficult endeavor. The OA contacted several businesses -- including building and roofing contractors and house-cleaning services -- that did not respond to repeated messages.
Greg Masters, general manager of Odessa Babbitt Bearing Co., said his business employs about 17 people and has been affected by a shortage of employees because of the oil boom.
He doesn't think immigration reform would affect his company.
"Our positions are all highly skilled labor," he said.
Those people who do come to his company already have the experience and
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