I’m not one to spend time in beauty parlours. I don’t do makeup or facials or such, but I am partial to a manicure and pedicure; the former cosmetic, the latter medicinal. I like having my nails done. I had my first manicure back in LA when my then-roommate, MD, introduced me to her nail salon. She’d go every Sunday, religiously, to have her nails done. A church of a different sort. The manicurists were Korean, I think. Back then, I hated anyone messing with my feet so it was sometime later, in San Francisco, that my late bestie, LS, introduced me to the joys of pedicures. At her salon, the pedicurists were from Thailand.
Since then, when I have the occasion to don a long frock or put on heels, I tend to gravitate towards a salon. I was really surprised in Portugal when I had my nails done there, days before a wedding. The manicurist slathered on the polish without the slightest concern with staying within the lines. I was a tad worried but she assured me that all would be well. It’s how Brazilians do it, she said. And sure enough, she then went back and tidied it up.
Any time I’ve had manicures or pedicures in the States though, it’s been by non-nationals, immigrants, women who have come from somewhere else. And this time, as the young lady from Vietnam worked her magic on my nails, I found myself wondering what would happen to America’s nails if all of those working in nail salons went back to where they came from. And that, of course, led me to wonder what would happen to the fruit and veg industry if the Mexicans went back across the border.
At last count, 28.2 million people, representing 17.4 percent of America’s employed workforce, was made up of foreign-born people, including immigrants, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to a 2019 survey commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 25 percent of newly ordained U.S. priests are foreign-born, with the largest percents hailing from Mexico (5 percent) and Nigeria (3 percent).
The top spot, 9.5 per cent, goes to those who work in construction.
By the time my nails had dried, I had imagined a scenario in which all foreign-born US residents were sent home and no more were allowed to enter. It was staggering to think how much the economy, society, and the things everyone takes for granted would be affected. Mind-boggling.
If you’re interested, Pew Research did a piece on proposed changes to US immigration and who would be affected.
Although just a visitor, I’m ever so grateful for those who bring their skills and their willingness to work to their adopted country. And I’m very pleased with my nails.