Hold Employers Accountable on Illegal Immigration

Indiana is cracking down on employers who knowingly hire illegal alien workers. A newly proposed law, Senate Bill 285, would revoke repeat offenders’ business licenses. The bill’s sponsor, state senator Mike Delph, explains that the measure will “take away the jobs magnet and remove the financial incentive of unscrupulous business people who profit off of illegal immigration.”

He’s right. Only by targeting employers can policymakers eliminate the main “pull factor” — readily available jobs — that fuels America’s illegal immigration crisis.

Ensuring businesses only hire legal workers will open up job opportunities for struggling Americans. Currently, 4.8 percent of native-born American citizens are unemployed. The rates are worse for disadvantaged groups — unemployment stands at 6.3 percent for Hispanics, 8.3 percent for African-Americans, and 6.7 percent for workers with less than a high school education.

Part of the reason these workers can’t find jobs is that some employers prefer to hire illegal aliens instead of Americans. Since illegal aliens are unlikely to turn to law enforcement if they’re abused, greedy businesses figure they can boost profits by hiring illegal workers and then underpaying them while ignoring workplace safety standards.

Consider the group of 7-Eleven stores that forced over 50 illegal aliens to live in substandard housing and work 100 hours a week for less than minimum wage. Or look at the Ohio employers who recently tricked Guatemalan teens into working in “slave conditions” with the promise of jobs and education.

Stripping such employers of their business licenses would prevent illegal workers from suffering cruelty and abuse. And such severe penalties would deter other employers from attempting to hire anyone other than American citizens or legal residents.

Business interests like the Chamber of Commerce have opposed the bill, claiming that it’s impossible “to distinguish what’s [hiring] knowingly and what’s unknowingly.” In other words, they argue that business owners shouldn’t lose their license if they hire illegal workers by mistake, rather than on purpose.

That’s a fair point. Thanks to E-Verify, it’s also an irrelevant one.

E-Verify, a free online portal, allows businesses to determine whether employees are legally permitted to work in the United States. In just a few seconds, the system can cross-reference workers’ employment eligibility forms with Social Security numbers and photo IDs to determine their work eligibility with 99.7 percent accuracy.

Under the Indiana law, employers who use E-Verify would be exempt from any punishments for accidentally hiring an illegal worker.

So long as employers promise illegal aliens jobs, illegal immigration will continue unabated and American workers will remain out of a job. Holding employers accountable, while giving them the tool to check employees’ employment eligibility, is a sure path to solving the illegal immigration crisis.

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