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Monday, November 08, 2004

USA: enforcement is focused on border, not business

from Sign On San Diego:

The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars during the past decade trying to deter illegal immigration along the Southwestern border, installing fencing, setting up sophisticated surveillance equipment and hiring thousands of Border Patrol agents.
Yet U.S. employers across the country continue to hire undocumented immigrants in violation of federal law, providing an economic incentive that undermines efforts to curb illegal immigration through border enforcement. Some employers do so knowingly, taking advantage of workers' illegal status to keep wages low and costs down. Others are duped by job applicants with fraudulent documents or turn a blind eye when presented with them.
Politically, enforcement is skewed heavily toward the border, not business. Although talk of national security dominated the presidential campaign this year, there was scant mention of enforcing immigration laws in the workplace.
At least 800,000 people are estimated to enter the country illegally each year. They readily find work in labor-intensive industries such as agriculture, where, according to a federal Department of Labor survey, at least half the work force in the late 1990s was unauthorized to work. They also flock to jobs in construction, manufacturing, meat packing, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, all industries that depend on low-wage help.
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