Saturday, May 21

MORE ON BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S PITIFUL RECORD ON SANCTIONS AGAINST EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE ILLEGALS

This March 28th editorial in the "Christian Science Monitor" is particularly pertinent given the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's round-up in recent days of 60 illegals employed in sensitive industries. It points to the Bush Administration's abject failure in enforcing laws on the books making it illegal for companies to hire illegal aliens.

Important to note is the defense used by the largest corporation in the United States, ol' red-white-and-blue, $285 billion Wal-Mart -- namely, that it didn't know it was using illegal aliens as janitors, because it was using janitors leased to the company by a third party agency! This is the very thing described in the preceding post, in which Texas-based refineries were using contract workers for maintenance work provided to them by a third party employer, Brock Enterprises of Beaumont, Texas.

A Wal-Mart janitor doesn't pose much of a potential terrorist threat, but a maintenance worker at an oil refinery, chemical manufacturing plant, or power station sure could!

Here's what the "CSM" editorial writer had to say:

If it weren't so easy for illegals and employers to skirt worker ID verification, the settlement's requirement that Wal-Mart also improve hiring controls might have a ripple effect in corporate America. But the piddling fine will hardly deter businesses from hiring cheap labor from a pool of illegals that's surged by 23 percent since 2000.

It's commonly argued that Americans don't want the jobs illegals take. But a workforce of perhaps 7 million undocumented workers depresses wages. Those wages would readjust upward, and be attractive to Americans and legal immigrants, if the stream of illegals significantly abated. Promise of work in the US encourages illegal (and dangerous) border crossing. That's why the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided for sanctions against businesses that hire the undocumented.

But enforcement is pathetically inadequate, especially since 9/11.

Facing limited resources, immigration officials have necessarily redirected priorities to protecting critical infrastructure. For instance, more than 1,100 unauthorized alien workers with access to sensitive areas at airports have been arrested.

Even so, the sanctions' decline is staggering. In 1999, fines totaling $3.69 million were collected from 890 companies. Last year, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) collected $118,500 from 64 companies. But it levied zero fines. Zero.

Lax enforcement spans administrations, and experts blame the twin pressures of ethnic advocacy and business interests. Decentralized hiring and high turnover compound the problem. Many large corporations have fobbed off hiring responsibility on contractors, and after them come scads of smaller businesses that rely on the undocumented.


Catch that last line of the last paragraph? Many large corporations have fobbed off hiring responsibility on contractors, and after them come scads of smaller businesses that rely on the undocumented.

Was that the gambit here in Houston?