Sunday, July 6, 2008
We've posted before on the reaction to the federal government's recent increase (relatively speaking) in enforcing ICRA's prohibition against hiring undocumented workers, usually focusing on the effect on employees. Many employers, however, rely substantially on such workers, so it's no surprise that they're pushing back. As described in a recent New York Times piece, employer groups are lobbying states to relax some recently enacted measures cracking down on undocumented workers:
Under pressure from the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in two decades, employers across the country are fighting back in state legislatures, the federal courts and city halls. Business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers. . . .
Employers in Arizona were stung by a law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature that revokes the licenses of businesses caught twice with illegal immigrants. They won approval in this year’s session of a narrowing of that law making clear that it did not apply to workers hired before this year. Last week, an Arizona employers’ group submitted more than 284,000 signatures — far more than needed — for a November ballot initiative that would make the 2007 law even friendlier to employers.
Also in recent months, immigration bills were defeated in Indiana and Kentucky — states where control of the legislatures is split between Democrats and Republicans — due in part to warnings from business groups that the measures could hurt the economy. . . .
While much of the employer activity has been at the grass-roots level, a national federation has been created to bring together the local and state business groups that have sprung up over the last year.“These employers are now starting to realize that nobody is in a better position than they are to make the case that they do need the workers and they do want to be on the right side of the law,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of the new federation, ImmigrationWorks USA.
After years of laissez-faire enforcement, federal immigration agents have been conducting raids at a brisk pace, with 4,940 arrests in workplaces last year. Although immigration has long been a federal issue, more than 175 bills were introduced in states this year concerning the employment of immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The article describes efforts in numerous states, so it's worth a full read. Expect many more developments in this area unless Congress actually gets some comprehensive immigration measure through.