Monday, August 20, 2007

Employer Responsibility for Illegal Immigrants

Last week, county executive John Leopold issued an executive order forbidding the county from entering into contracts with businesses that employ illegal immigrants. This order is somewhat redundant, as county contracts already stipulate that all businesses contracted by the county must be compliant with federal laws, and since we are talking about illegal immigration, this is already covered. But, in Mr. Leopold's words,

I wanted to make it clear that there is this federal law and that this county takes this law seriously.

This order reinforces Leopold's anti-illegal immigration stance, as he recently denied a $115,000 grant to an organization that could not prove that it worked with only legal immigrants. (Much of this money was later restored by the state.)

(On a side note, anti-illegal immigration should not have to be a stance. It is ILLEGAL--that's the key word--we should be opposed to everything that is against the law, or we should change the laws.)

But this raises the much responsibility to employers have? Currently employers must make a copy of 2 forms of identification, as well as complete a new hire reporting form called an I-9. Is this enough? Should employers also be required to check their employees against a national database? Or are employers going to be penalized for hiring illegal immigrants no matter how hard they work to verify their legal status?

I know what you are thinking, and normally you would be right. You are thinking "What a hypocrite. Here is a free-market guy whining about the free market being to expensive to deal with. Get your story straight AP." But there is a difference. In this case, the private sector is being asked to do what the government is responsible for doing--securing our borders--and indeed they are being asked to succeed where the government has failed.

Businesses are not required to verify that the money they accept is not counterfeit; the Secret Service is responsible for this enforcement. Why should they be responsible for verifying identity, when the government has 2 chances to do it first? Secure borders should be preventing illegals from coming, but if they don't, the MVA and/or the Social Security Agency should be refusing to issue identification. What I'm trying to say is, if somebody shows up to work with a driver's license and security card, an employer should have every reason to believe that this person is legal.

That having been said, I applaud Mr. Leopold for this order. He seems to be doing what little he can to oppose illegal immigration, which you will recall, is illegal.

Employers should not knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and should be penalized if they do. I would even be in favor of requiring employees to be checked against a national database, provided that this process is fast and inexpensive.

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