“The job magnet is making it impossible to secure the Southwest border. The availability of jobs in the United States attracts immigrants who need work and are willing to do whatever they have to do to cross the border.
Congress tried to eliminate the job magnet by establishing employer sanctions with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). The theory was that if employers were sanctioned for hiring aliens who do not have work authorization, they would stop hiring them.
This was expected to prevent a new group of undocumented aliens from taking the place of the ones IRCA was going to legalize.
It didn’t work. Approximately 2.7 million undocumented aliens were legalized, but by the beginning of 1997, they had been replaced entirely by a new group of undocumented aliens.
It failed because the sanctions were not applied on a large-scale, nationwide basis. This is necessary to make employers throughout the United States afraid that they will be sanctioned if they hire undocumented workers. And it has continued to fail for the same reason. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 8 million unauthorized immigrants working or looking for work in the United States in FY2014.
The government has had more than 30 years to make the sanctions work, and it hasn’t happened. It is unrealistic at this point to expect it ever to happen. A new approach should be considered. But first, let’s look at what employer sanctions do.
. . . .
Shift attention to “the other magnet.”
Unscrupulous employers are drawn to undocumented immigrant workers because they can be exploited easily and are not in a position to complain about the way they are treated. I call this “the exploitation magnet.”
The Department of Labor (DOL) sanctions employers for exploiting employees without regard to their immigration status. Consequently, DOL enforcement officers do not have to determine whether an exploited employee is an alien, and if so, whether he has work authorization. For instance, DOL enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires a minimum wage and overtime pay.
Low wage industries tend to employ substantial numbers of undocumented immigrants.
DOL prosecutes employers for violating labor laws much more aggressively than DHS prosecutes employers for hiring unauthorized immigrants.
In FY2014, for instance, DHS issued only 643 final fine orders, imposing fines totaling $16.28 million, and DOL collected $79.1 million in back wages for overtime and minimum wage violations involving 109,261 employees.
With additional funding, DOL could mount a large-scale, nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire large numbers of undocumented immigrants, which would go a long way towards eliminating the job magnet.”
Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article. I highly recommend his succinct summary of the current employer sanctions program and “E-Verify.”
I think Nolan is “right on” in his recommendation for more aggressive enforcement of wage and hour laws. No matter where you stand on the overall immigration policy issue, I think that we can all agree that U.S. employers should not be gaining a competitive advantage by exploiting migrant labor, whether documented or undocumented.