Immigration reform: making employers pay
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Immigration reform: making employers pay

June 16, 2010, 12:57 pm
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If we take the politics out of the issue and strictly enforce sanctions we will solve our immiration problem
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Immigration reform: making employers pay

By Reynold N. Mason Esq.

The solution to America’s immigration problem is simple. In fact, it is staring us in the face. But politicians lack the political will to do what is necessary to solve the problem. We all agree that what drives illegal immigration is the attractiveness on the American job market. The availability of work, even at low wages, is  attracting  illegal immigrants like moths to a candle. Extinguish the candle or draw the drapes shut and the moths stop coming.  Congress recognized this as far back as the 1980’s.  The IRCA (Immigration Reform control Act of 1986) was congress’ first stab at removing the “Help Wanted” sign which is the engine driving illegal immigration.   The IRCA made it illegal to hire undocumented immigrants and imposed fines on employers who did. The idea, in theory, was a good one but it was flawed in its execution. There is a simple fix for our immigration problem, and it is this:

1.     Use e-verify to determine if a person applying for a job is eligible to work.( E-Verify is a web-based system operated by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) which enables an employer to verify employment eligibility of job applicants and their Social Security numbers.

This would do away with the phony document problem and, since it is done electononically, there cannot be any claim of discrimination because of “accent” or foreign appearance.

2.   Retain employer sanctions and hit hard at businesses that evade  e-verify.

3.  Crack down on smugglers and deport criminals

4.  Grant amnesty to illegals who are law abiding and who come forward, register and get fingerprinted and cleared, as senator Schumer proposes.

5   Finally, deny public benefits, such as driver licenses and other social services to those who remain or enter the country illegally after the cut-off date.

Past immigration failures

The issue of immigration is an emotional one infected with the poison of electoral politics.  Politicians will not act because they fear a backlash from Hispanic voters over whom they desire to retain their influence.  On the other extreme, there are those who oppose tougher immigration enforcement on the ground that it singles out Hispanics and encourages racial profiling.  Liberal organizations like the ACLU and NAACP oppose tough measures on human rights and civil rights grounds. And big labor, always seeking to protect the interest of its members, oppose relaxing labor laws to let in more workers.  The pull and tug of these political interests, has our congress in a political straight jacket.  Like a deer caught in the headlights, congress is paralyzed in the face on onrushing doom.   And doom is what we face unless we act to stem the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern borders. Opposition to employer sanctions and challenges to the law made what was otherwise a promising start a complete failure.  There were claims that employers would  demand documents proving eligibility to work in the US, only  from persons who looked or sounded foreign;  that  businesses would play it safe and not hire Hispanics  or people who  speak with a foreign sounding accent.  More problematic was the fact that employers had no way of telling whether papers submitted by a worker were genuine or fake.   And an employer who honestly believed papers presented were genuine, could find himself facing large fines if it turned out the documents on which he relied were, in fact, phony.   The document requirement of the 1986 law gave rise to a cottage industry in fake documents.  Illegals, unable to show employment authorization simply purchased them on the market.

European Countries fine businesses for hiring illegal workers.    

A 1990 study by the GAO found that 78% of employers wanted improved verification since it would eliminate fraud and eliminate fines for honest mistakes.  Simply run the applicant through the federal data base and a get definitive determination of his /her eligibility to work.  The GAO in a survey of EU countries in 1997 found that fourteen of nineteen countries surveyed had employer sanctions.  Since then Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore have passed laws penalizing businesses for hiring illegals.  Even Australia, surrounded by the Pacific, has made it a crime to knowingly hire an illegal person to work or refer an illegal for work with another business.

Faced with excessive and unsustainable immigration, maintaining the status quo is not an option.  America must put aside political partisanship and take bold and decisive steps to bring immigration under control.  As every recent poll has shown, Americans want and support comprehensive immigration reform. Their frustration with the laissez- faire attitude of the federal government has led states to take matters into their own hands. This is counter-productive because what is needed is not a patchwork of laws, like that of Arizona’s or Oklahoma’s, but a national immigration solution.  “Every sovereign nation has the right to decide who may cross its borders”. It’s high time America started acting like one.


Author: Reynold Mason
Reynold N. Mason teaches law courses at Zenover Educational Institute In Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a judge on New York City Civil Court and, a Justice on New York State Supreme Court. Mason has been an adjunct professor of law at Medgar Evers College and Monroe College in New York. He has authored several legal opinions published in New York Miscellaneous Reports and New York Official Reports as well as the New York Law Journal. He lives in Atlanta.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
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