August 10, 2007


Immigration debate: Firms warn of lack of workers: Federal crackdown could force firings across the state. (Susan Ferriss, 8/09/07, Sacramento Bee)

California businesses, which employ the majority of illegal immigrants throughout the country, are reeling after federal officials announced a new workplace crackdown.

People in industries as diverse as California's hotels and massive farms, its restaurants and convalescent homes,said Wednesday they are confused and fear they could be forced into mass firings.

Those at risk are employers who've received letters from the Social Security Administration saying their workers' numbers don't match names in federal databases.

As early as this month, the Department of Homeland Security plans to require all employers who have received those letters to fire the workers if the discrepancy cannot be resolved relatively quickly.

The department is planning to use the letters to track down employers and conduct raids if necessary, leading to fines or prosecution of businesses that don't fire the workers in question.

Homeland Security has been considering using Social Security information as a tool to enforce immigration laws for some time, but officials were waiting to see if Congress would approve changes to put some illegal immigrants on a path to legal residency.

Central Valley farmers -- and other agricultural interests who provide a huge percentage of the nation's food -- are warning Americans that they believe small businesses could go under and that prices could soar or products could become scarce.

All those nativists who want to keep the Mexicans out could best serve their cause by taking these crappy jobs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2007 7:08 AM

Cry me a river. In a market economy, there is no "shortage" of any resource. These farmers have gotten used to cheap indentured labor.

Posted by: sam at August 10, 2007 7:33 AM

All those nativists who want to keep the Mexicans out could best serve their cause by taking these crappy jobs.

Sounds like the half century of excuses served up to justify sharecropping and Jim Crow, and with the same sort of mentality behind both.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 10, 2007 9:54 AM

Yes Raoul but you know rich whitebread liberals gotta keep that 401k up somehow.

Posted by: Perry at August 10, 2007 10:04 AM

If the guvmint would get out of the way, labor, like every other commodity, would find its own level.

Posted by: erp at August 10, 2007 10:07 AM

This all may be part of the "solution" finding itself.

The "wahoos" demanded something be done while the business class demanded cheap labor (private gain with low risk) while sloughing cost off on the public sector (schools, health care, etc.)

The "Amnesty Bill" OJ lauded was simply a bit too far for the wahoos to suffer, and, as many Senators pointed out, they knew the bill better than the Senators.

With the pain of rotting crops and closing businesses, the answer will arise in the form of real (not fake) border control, increased LEGAL immigration, better tracking, and increased oversight of business practices, all wrapped up in a bow in mid 2008 so as to take the issue off the table for the elections.

Sit back and watch.

Posted by: Bruno at August 10, 2007 10:34 AM

I get a letter like this nearly every year. When asked for their correct documents the 4 or 5 employees (dishwashers and janitors almost exclusively and yes, they earn more than Washington's $7.93hr minimum wage) simply quit showing up and find another job elsewhere, where I assume they replace other displaced illegals that then apply at our restaurant. I don't see this policy being a big problem for the immigrants.

Posted by: Patrick H at August 10, 2007 10:48 AM

We can always import contaminated produce from China.

Posted by: ic at August 10, 2007 12:19 PM

Slaves didn't swim the Middle Passage.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2007 2:17 PM

Wouldn't someone who has a low-level job such as, say, driving a Zamboni be willing to move up to working at a hotel?

Posted by: GER at August 10, 2007 5:10 PM