This particular article almost points out a problem that many employers have, but like many in the Mainstream Media, they never go the whole ten yards. Yes, employers should NOT knowingly hire illegals. However, and I know from experience, when someone brings you all the proper documentation saying that they are legal and you hire them, why should the employer get fined? Illegals can purchase very official looking documents that are exact duplicates of the real deals. So how is the employer suppose to know? They make a big deal in this article about how Obama has been fining more employers than the previous administration, but I have to wonder if its just another attack by the Obama administration on Capitalism in America.
Immigration reform should include national ID cards
- January 20th, 2011 12:50 pm ET
The White House has created a new agency to combat illegal immigration that’s long overdue. The Employment Compliance Inspection Center will be an audit office designed to “pore over the I-9 employee files” and make sure that workers are the country legally. In other words, it targets the the thing that attracts illegals to the United States: Jobs, and the business that provide them.
Opponents claim that these “silent raids” are not only invasive but brutal to business. Of course, it won’t be brutal if you follow the law. The inspectors will show up, you’ll be compliant and they’ll go away. Of course, if you’re breaking the law and hiring illegals, it will cause problems, and that can be brutal. The solution is simple: Don’t hire illegals.
Actually, the administration has been stepping up this process with scant notice. Since Obama took office, fines against employers for illegal hirings have jumped tenfold, going from $700,000 in 2008 to $7 million in 2010.
More enforcement against employers hiring illegals is a far smarter and more efficient use of our tax dollars than spending it on placebos like a wall or more border security. Border security is fine, and it’s important, but it doesn’t address the problem of why illegals come to this country. They come here for jobs. Stop providing the jobs and they won’t have any good reason to come here. It’s a simple supply and demand equation.
However, simultaneously, the guest worker program has to be revamped and modernized to meet the needs of industries Americans refuse to work in. Sorry, but Americans are not applying for jobs in the hotel and domestic industry, or in agriculture. Ask any farmer in California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Washington. Kids don’t want to work the fields, something old timers will tell you they did when they were young, and even in a recession, growers had trouble hiring American citizens to harvest produce. Not only won’t American citizens do it, they don’t know how to do it. Picking crops is not a ham-handed exercise; it requires knowledge and skill.
Construction is a different story. Many a laborer will tell you they lost the job to illegal immigrants, immigrants who are skilled at these tasks, but who are here illegally, and as long as there are Americans willling to do that work, hiring them should always take precedence.
But builders like hire the cheaper help because it helps make them competitive, as in, we citizens want the lowest bid. Illegals help contractors offer you that, but that’s an area where many skilled American laborers can, would and should work, and American consumers should pay that price than hire an illegal day laborer. American consumers, however, are the largest single employer of day labor in this country, according to studies done by UCLA and the Pew Research Center.
One problem for employers, however, is identification. Stories are plentiful of employers who can’t ferret out forged documents. The solution here is to develop and implement an e-verify/national ID card with embedded biometric data but that proposal has met resistance at both the local and federal level. Even in states that require employers to use e-verify, like Arizona, the vast majority of business owners don’t bother. They say it’s flawed.
All the more reason why a national identity card should be part of any immigration reform package.
Two polls from last year shed some light on this matter. Both McClatchy-Ipsos and the Pew Research Center set out to take the national pulse on Arizona’s controversial new immigration law. In each poll, more than six in 10 Americans supported the law. More fascinating: In each poll, roughly seven in 10 said they wouldn’t mind if police stopped them to ask for proof of citizenship, and two-thirds supported police detaining people who can’t.
Even among Democrats, who were evenly split over the Arizona law, nearly two-thirds supported the law’s provision requiring people to produce documents verifying legal status and 55 percent supported detaining those who couldn’t.
Would these same people support a new, national ID card for American workers?
Last April, Senate Democrats introduced an immigration reform proposal that included a provision requiring all legal U-S workers to have an employment verification ID card within five years, complete with name, photograph, birth date, Social Security number and embedded biometric data that can be connected only to the worker (like fingerprints or a retina scan). It would be phased in, beginning with industries that typically rely on illegal-immigrant labor, and issued to workers only when they next changed jobs.
That would certainly make a cop’s job easier when asking for proof of citizenship, but that’s not even the intent. The intent is solely to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants. We often say, if we didn’t hire them, illegals wouldn’t come here. But we do hire them. The card proposes making that process more difficult by making it easier to verify authorized workers.
For some, of course, having a genetic marker like a retina scan on any form of ID card starts to get Brave New World creepy. The ACLU argues that it’s an infringement on individual privacy rights; conservatives worry about more big government.
Neither of these arguments really makes sense. Actually, the concept could reduce the cost of government by shifting the focus from individuals to employers, who would be required to electronically check and verify an applicant’s eligibility via the ID card, which would be issued by the Social Security Administration. No police raid would be necessary at a plant that can’t hire illegal immigrants.
What about privacy?
Please! We’re the nation on Facebook, YouTube, Google and Shmoogle. We use Mapquest and GPS, and track packages delivered by UPS. We’ve done anything and everything to get on television, including a show called “Big Brother.” Post a comment to any website and rest assured, paranoid reader: “They” can probably find you. We don’t want privacy; we want attention.
Just look at all the identification in your wallet: A driver’s license, credit cards, insurance cards, a Social Security card – more than enough plastic for the government to find you if they wanted to, yet, none of these cards has led down a slippery slope toward some sort of electronic police state. Indeed, there’s practical sense in having those metrics combined into a single ID card, but the legislative measure didn’t even proposeg that; it’s just proposing a form of employment enforcement.
If there’s one place where you’re supposed to prove you are who you say you are, it’s when you apply for a job. And after you’ve exaggerated your accomplishments on your résumé, you still have to present your Social Security card. So why not refer to this biometrically digitized upgrade as Social Security Card 2.0? Is that any more intrusive than background checks, credit reports and drug tests?
No one is saying this card would be a magic bullet. It won’t completely eliminate the cash economy, and the sheer scale of implementing the program would be challenging. But building walls, hiring more border guards and arresting those here illegally only focuses on keeping people out. It doesn’t address the root of the problem: why they come in.
In the past year, the number of illegal immigrants has dropped from 12 million to 10.8 million, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Remittances –the amount of money sent home by Mexicans working abroad– dropped 12 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared with a year ago, according to the Bank of Mexico. Why? The recession made it tougher to find jobs in the United States.
A technologically enhanced ID card would make it tougher still. We’re talking about a fundamental form of identification intended for a fundamental purpose in society – getting a job. Ensuring the accuracy of such identification is a good thing, not a bad thing.
If the majority of Americans truly are comfortable with being required to show proof of citizenship to an inquiring cop, why would we be any less comfortable with the idea of a modernized, digitized, tamper-proof Social Security card if it cuts down on the hiring of illegal immigrants?