Tucked in the Immigration Bill, A Poison Pill for Employers

By May 23, 2007General

You’ve not seen much about the topic of immigration on this blog as the debate has played out over the past two years. That’s because our biggest issue is on the high end, finding H1B workers and expanding green cards for high-skilled foreign workers. In the 21st Century, work often follows the innovator and so we need to make sure that the world’s best and brightest continue to come here — and stay here.

But as the Senate is poised to debate the immigration bill, there is a little poison pill tucked therein that moves us — and should move you — to action. In the midst of this behemoth of a bill (you can read the 347-page text if you’re bored by clicking here), is a provision that would throw the book at employers who hire illegal immigrants. “What’s wrong with that?,” you say? Plenty.

What’s wrong is that the system for verifying one’s legal status is a little unreliable. OK, make that, “highly unreliable.” Under current rules, every potential employee must fill out an I-9 form. You can see one by clicking here. You’ll see on page three it has three lists — A, B and C — each containing several items of identification. To pass muster, every prospective employee must show one form of ID on List A or one form of ID on List B and List C. Got it? Not to worry, no one else gets it either, but employers get good at it eventually. Once a prospective employee shows you the requisite verification, as far as the US Government is concerned, an employer is free to hire them. Problem is, there is a huge cottage industry cranking out fake documents on List A, B and C.

What the new bill endeavors to do is to choke employers with paperwork and dramatically increase the penalties for hiring illegals. To that, we say give us a reliable system. Once we have a reliable system that can assess one’s legal status with some degree of certainty, employer sanctions make sense. But if it’s a Swiss cheese system, rife with abuse and characterized by its very unreliability, employer sanctions make no sense.

Here’s a site with lots of information on the topic. Click here to weigh in with your Members of Congress. Let them know you play by the rules but we prefer a “ready, aim, fire” approach to the “ready, fire, aim” legislation that’s now on the table.