Friday, April 25, 2008

Study: Illegal Worker Crackdown Would Cost Employers $1B

The government's plan to crack down on illegal workers could cost employers more than $1 billion a year and legal workers billions in lost wages, a study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says.

Those costs are enough to trigger a federal law that would require the Homeland Security Department to analyze more thoroughly the effect of its proposal, said Richard Belzer, a consultant hired by the chamber to do the study. It was made available to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The department's proposed "no match" rule would require employers to fire workers who can't resolve mismatches between their name and Social Security number. The chamber opposes the proposal.

Belzer's study will be among public comments submitted to the Homeland Security Department on the proposal. The department could adopt the proposal after reviewing the comments. The deadline for comments is Friday.

For the full story, click here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Houston Shipley Raid First in Broad Crackdown

Families are in hiding. Immigrants are lining up lawyers in case of arrest. Business leaders are nervous, and activists are outraged.

It's part of the dramatic fallout from an immigration raid last week on a Shipley Do-Nuts warehouse complex, the first such raid in Houston since early last year.

"A lot of the undocumented are afraid of going out on the street where you might get picked up," said Alma Baladez, a legal Mexican immigrant who lives by the northside Shipley complex. "They don't go out with the same tranquility."

That peace could be rocked even further as immigration experts and government officials warn that more raids are looming — raids increasingly designed to force employers into complying with laws.

Kevin Lachus, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney, expects worksite investigations and immigration raids to increase significantly across the U.S. and especially in Houston.

For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Arizona's Immigration Two-Step

Traumatized by a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, Arizona last year enacted the nation's most pitiless law to punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Now state lawmakers, having proved that they mean business -- even if it means killing off businesses -- are reconnecting with reality: They want to import Mexican workers.

No state has been as unhinged by illegal immigration as Arizona, where by some estimates undocumented employees comprise up to 12 percent of the state's workforce of 3 million, more than twice the national average. They have also fueled Arizona's supercharged economy, which has grown faster -- and with less unemployment -- than almost anywhere else in the country.

For the full story, click here.

How Errors in Basic Pilot/E-Verify Databases Impact U.S. Citizens and Lawfully Present Immigrants

The Basic Pilot/E-Verify employment eligibility verification program is being sold as an
easy fix that would curb unauthorized employment by undocumented immigrants. But
state laws mandating businesses to use Basic Pilot/E-Verify, federal administrative efforts
to expand the program, and congressional proposals to require its use by all employers entirely
ignore the effect the program will have on U.S. citizens and lawfully present noncitizens. The
program has been plagued by serious problems since its inception in 1997, including (1) its
reliance on government databases that have unacceptably high error rates that misidentify work authorized individuals as not employment-eligible and (2) employer misuse of the program to
take unjustified adverse action against workers.1 These deficiencies will be magnified many
times over if the program is further expanded before they are addressed. The inevitable result
will be to threaten the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of citizens and lawfully present
immigrants who may be either wrongfully dismissed from or refused employment.

For the full article, click here.

The Real Price of SAVE

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released an estimate of the costs of the “Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act” (“SAVE Act,” HR 4088). The bill’s centerpiece is a massive mandatory electronic employment verification system that would require all American workers, native- and foreign-born, to be approved by a government database in order to secure employment. In addition, the bill includes several familiar enforcement provisions including: increasing the number of immigration enforcement agents, increasing law enforcement activities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and adding more detention beds. The CBO concludes that the “SAVE Act” would decrease federal revenues, increase government spending, and create an unfunded mandate for states and private employers.
According to the CBO, enacting “Save Act” would:

• Decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion over the 2009-2018. This decrease largely reflects the judgment that mandatory verification of employment eligibility through the E-Verify system would result in an increase in the number of undocumented workers being paid outside the tax system. Simply put, rather than increase legality, the “SAVE Act” will push more employers to pay their workers “under the table,” ironically deepening illegal behavior.

• Increase discretionary spending by approximately $10.3 billion over the 2009-2013 period and $23.4 billion over the 2009-2018. Those costs reflect the federal government’s expanded use of the employment verification system, additional personnel for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), increased detention capacity, grants to certain local governments along the borders, and additional costs to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for verifying the proper use of Social Security numbers.

• Unfunded mandates compliance costs exceeding $136 million in at least one of the first five years the mandates are in effect.
The “SAVE Act” would impose mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by requiring: all employers – including public entities – to verify all new hires through the expanded electronic employment verification system, all states to maintain data regarding birth registries, and all employers to provide information to the SSA. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these costs exceed the annual threshold of $138 million established in the UMRA.

• Increase federal direct spending by $30 million over the 2009-2018 for salaries of new federal judges authorized by the bill.

For the full article, click here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chertoff: Don't Expect Any Changes in Immigration Enforcement

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he feels the pain of employers pinched by the federal government's intensified efforts to control illegal immigration. But until Congress enacts broad immigration reforms, businesses shouldn't expect any changes in enforcement.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Chertoff said this week the rising complaints from businesses offer some evidence the Bush administration's approach is working.

"This is harsh but accurate proof positive that for the first time in decades, we've succeeded in changing the dynamic and (are) actually beginning to reduce illegal immigration," Chertoff said. "Unfortunately, unless you counterbalance that with a robust system to allow people to come in temporarily and legally, you're going to wind up with an economic problem."

Chertoff defended the actions of his agency, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

For the full story, click here.

Nunez blasts Homeland Security Over Workplace Immigration Raids

State Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez and 22 other state lawmakers blasted the Department of Homeland Security Thursday, calling for the federal agency to halt immigration raids at the workplace.

The California legislators, in a terse letter to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, asked for a moratorium on the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents until they can have a "frank exchange" over their methods.

The letter cited the Feb. 7 raids of a Van Nuys toner and ink manufacturing plant where authorities detained 130 people, and cames a week after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked the federal government to review its immigration policy.

"This raid resulted in numerous very clear violations of constitutional rights as well as the egregious and offensive mistreatment of workers," the letter said. "The manner in which ICE has conducted its workplace raids and overly aggressive investigation practices is unacceptable on societal grounds and questionable, at best, on legal grounds."

For the full story, click here.

Tally of those Arrested in Immigration Raids at Pilgrim's Pride Plants Climbs to 311

The tally of those arrested at Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants on various immigration-related offenses climbed Thursday to 311.

Workers at Pilgrim's Pride, one of the world's largest poultry processors, have been the target of a criminal investigation into identity theft for at least a year, and Wednesday, workers employed at five plants, including Mount Pleasant operations, were arrested by federal immigration agents.

Certain workers at the Mount Pleasant plant are believed to be key organizers in an identity theft ring, federal prosecutors and agents said.

False use of an authentic Social Security number is a felony – and growing in prevalence among illegal immigrants searching for ways to avoid detection.

But the tally, released Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showed that slightly less than a third of the arrested workers had been charged with criminal violations. Federal officials said Wednesday that charges could be made more severe.

For the full story, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Newsweek: Crossing The Line?

A year ago Roberto promised to pay a smuggler $1,400 for safe passage from the Mexican border to Arizona, where he heard there was plenty of work. After a punishing three-day trek through the desert, the 30-year-old Mexican citizen arrived in Phoenix and quickly obtained two jobs, one as a baker and one as a dishwasher. With his $580 weekly earnings, he paid off the smuggler and began sending money home to his wife and two children. He expected to live and work in Phoenix for years.

Like many of the state's estimated 450,000 undocumented immigrants, Roberto (who asked that NEWSWEEK withhold his last name) is reconsidering his plans. The reason: in January a controversial state law went into effect that harshly penalizes the 150,000 businesses that employ illegal workers. First offenders face a 10-day suspension of their business license, and second offenders may have their licenses revoked permanently. Meanwhile, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been targeting illegal immigrants in a series of recent sweeps in the Phoenix area. The law—and the sheriff—have harsh critics. On April 4 Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff for potential civil rights violations. Arpaio's sweeps are "publicity stunts in an election year," Gordon tells NEWSWEEK. "But they endanger the welfare of citizens and policemen alike."

For the full story, click here.

Federal Immigration Agents Raid Arkansas Poultry Plant

Federal agents raided a north Arkansas poultry plant Wednesday morning over suspected immigration violations, authorities said.

Temple Black, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press that the arrests came as part of an ongoing criminal investigation that involved a Pilgrim's Pride poultry plant in Batesville. Black declined to say how many people were arrested or describe the nature of the investigation.

For the full story, click here.