More on Employers’ Immigration Obligations

Yesterday, I wrote about immigration. Today, I happened on a few related items.

First, while looking at back issues of the St. Louis Bar Journal, for which I am preparing an article, I found:

“A Brief Overview of the United States Immigration System” by immigration attorney George S. Newman (.pdf)

For those, like me, whose head swims when hearing about various immigration classifications and visa types, this article offers a concise guide to the subject.

It would be good to have on file when the processing of a standard I-9 form results in presentation of documents of a type the employer has never seen before (or perhaps never heard of).

The second item is from HR.BLR.com:

“Employers Accused of Immigration Law Violations Face Criminal Charges”

This article briefly covers criminal enforcement against employers accused of knowingly harboring illegal aliens and of money laundering in connection with an illegal immigrant employment scheme at hotels.

It is one thing for an employer to be taken advantage of by an illegal immigrant presenting credible, but forged, papers. This would not tend to lead to criminal charges; indeed it is likely to be entirely lawful on the employer’s part.

It is another thing entirely for an employer to arrange for importation of illegal immigrants with full knowledge of their status. This is criminal, and the feds are going after it.

According to the article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

Is taking an increasingly tough stance against egregious corporate violators that knowingly employ illegal aliens. . . .

Bringing criminal charges against these unscrupulous employers and targeting their ill-gotten gains is a tactic [it is] adopting nationwide.

This is a wholesale departure from the past system of sanctioning corporate violators with minor fines, which were rarely paid in a timely manner or at all.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal today ran a story (sorry, subscribers only) about a predicted shortage of the labor needed to care for the rapidly growing elderly population in the U.S.

Presently, much of this work is performed at low wages by (legal and illegal) immigrants.

Part of the immigration debate is whether immigrants are really needed for this work, or whether with a tighter immigration policy supply and demand will “merely” drive up wages until Americans line up gleefully for the jobs.

Given the huge elder care costs our government has assumed, and the huge private costs coming in the future, I wonder if we can afford to pass up cheap immigrant labor.

I also wonder how high the market price would rise if the border were sealed.

Higher prices could lead to reduced demand, as care became less affordable, resulting in a lower quality of care for those with less financial resources.

On balance, I say: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Photo credit: kadenza_flickr via flickr
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