‘Roseanne’ just took an irresponsible slap at illegal immigrants. Do better, please.

Last week’s episode of Roseanne preached tolerance toward Muslim-Americans. Yet it contained an intolerant slap at “illegals.”

Creator Roseanne Barr has tweeted that, in her sitcom reboot, she wants to “challenge every sacred cow in USA.” But she missed the sacred cow in the immigration debate — the fact that blue-collar workers who feel squeezed out of jobs by illegal immigrants often have only themselves to blame.

Imagine you voted for Donald Trump and you were born on third base because you speak English and had the benefit of U.S. citizenship and a free education, and you maybe had a boost in life with a union job because your uncle hooked you up.

And imagine you’re competing for a job with someone who is in the country illegally, who doesn’t speak English and has a sixth-grade education, and who can’t get legal status because both major political parties flunked the immigration issue.

Now imagine you’re getting your clock cleaned because the immigrant has a work ethic that won’t quit.

Like the Germans who came in the 18th century, the Irish who came in the 19th century and the Italians who came in the 20th century, people with nothing who bet everything on a fresh start often show up early, stay late and hustle to get ahead.

An employer in Dallas once told me that when she interviewed prospective employees, she had no trouble telling natives from immigrants. The natives asked about vacation days, sick days and personal days. The immigrants asked how much work they could get. Whom do you think she hired?

Americans won’t admit that. We’re a proud people. So we tell ourselves that immigrants — especially those here illegally — work for lower wages, which makes them irresistible to employers. It’s not our fault, we say. The game is rigged.

This is what Dan Conner on Roseanne believes.

The episode last week confronted Islamophobia. Dan — played by John Goodman — tells his wife not to worry about the Muslim-American family across the street because, he says, “they’re probably just regular folks who want to make a home here.”

What the Conners really need to worry about, it turns out, are those dreaded “illegals.”

Dan, a contractor, is surprised to learn that he lost a bid to spread drywall in rentals for a regular client. “We work for union minimum,” Dan says. “No one is going to beat that.”

Someone did. So Dan speculates that his competitor “must be going non-union.” Then, he asks the client: “You’re not hiring illegals?”

We never learn the answer. But the story moves along with the assumption that illegal immigrants are the reason that the Conners can’t pay their bills.

Dan blames the immigrants who “are so desperate they’ll work for nothing, and we’re getting screwed in the process.” Meanwhile, Roseanne insists the real villain in this drama is the client, who is “taking advantage” of cheap labor.

Everyone accepts that undocumented immigrants hurt working-class Americans by taking jobs and lowering wages. But Americans need to ask more questions.

Like this one: Do illegal immigrants really work for lower wages than Americans demand? Hard to say, given that Americans won’t go anywhere near most of the hard and dirty jobs done by illegal immigrants — not at any price. In Central California, which produces most of the nation’s fruits and vegetables and which now suffers from a labor shortage, farmers tell me workers set the daily rate depending on how many of them are available that day, the size of the job, and what other farms are paying. It’s the workers, and not the employers, who have the leverage.

Or this one: Why is there a “union-minimum” in the first place? It’s an arbitrary number set by organized labor which collects dues from union members and then spreads that cash around to politicians, mostly Democrats, to get favorable laws written. Maybe the “union-minimum” is too high, and it has more to do with greed than what the work is worth.

Or this one: Why do we blame workers and not employers for low wages? Do we honestly think that the workers wouldn’t like to be paid more? As Roseanne notes, it is the employer who is using undocumented workers to cut corners and thus “taking advantage.” Why don’t we ever hear that the Trump administration is cracking down on employers?

Or, finally, this one: What responsibility do American workers have to improve themselves, get more education and skills, and stay competitive so they’re not losing out to the lowest bidder? Employers and clients want bargains, but they also want quality employees and contractors.

I had an uncle who laid brick. To fend off competitors, he spent his off-duty hours learning how to become a stone mason. Soon, he was naming his price. His work was that good.

Dan Conner spends his down time drinking beer and tinkering with motorcycles in his garage.

We all make choices. Make the wrong ones, and you could find yourself in the humiliating spot of claiming that you’ve been put out of work by undocumented immigrants.

If television shows are going to fiddle with an issue as complicated as immigration, they ought to fiddle responsibly.

Ruben Navarrette Jr., a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group and host of the daily podcast, Navarrette Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @RubenNavarrette.