A new resource
from our friends at the National Immigration Law Center emphasizes the
costs to both businesses and local governments of trying to enforce
immigration law in the workplace. As they note, the E-verify system -
the electronic program that is currently voluntary for employers to use
in comparing workers’ documents for employment eligibility against
federal databases from the Department of Homeland Security and the
Social Security Administration - imposes a range of costs:
President Obama's pick for secretary of labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, could
help shape a new approach to immigration control that emphasizes the
robust enforcement of labor laws.
Where the Bush administration stepped up workplace immigration
enforcement, sweeping up migrant workers and not always going after the
employers who illegally hire them, the Obama administration is expected
to take a different tack.
Immigrant advocates hope that strengthening compliance with
workplace health and safety laws and wage and hour standards - which
Solis promised in her hearing before the labor committee in January -
will protect workers in general and could reduce the likelihood that
some employers will seek to profit by hiring undocumented workers.
News item #1: As of Nov. 30, 13 states had enacted 19 employment laws
related to immigrants since Jan. 1, 2008, according to a December
report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The
laws covered hiring unauthorized workers, employment verification,
unemployment benefits and so forth.
The states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland,
Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
and, of course, Mississippi.
The next administration's preoccupation with economic crises will
likely prevent immigration advocates from capitalizing on steep losses
suffered by their foes in last week's election, delaying any attempt to
ease entry for people in the U.S. illegally.
Of the 13 House Republicans who lost their seats on Nov. 4, nine
were members of the Immigration Reform Caucus, which has opposed a path
to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million illegal
immigrants. A 10th member, Virginia's Virgil Goode, is trailing in a
race still too close to call.
The Misguided Media Hype over Anti-Immigrant Legislation:
Despite much media hype, the supposed wave of anti-immigrant politics has
amounted to a few punitive laws in a handful of states, even as most states have
quietly been moving forward with positive, integrative approaches to new
immigrants in their communities.
The Failed Use of Immigration as a "Wedge” Issue: The current
hype around anti-immigrant policies is, unfortunately, about electoral
politics. The media largely fell for the tactics of political
opportunists who hoped to use the issue of immigration as a "wedge” issue,
much as they have used gay marriage and other social issues to undermine
progressive coalitions and support rightwing politicians during elections.
Yet the result has largely been political failure for rightwing politicians
trying to play the anti-immigrant political card.