Below is my column on the recent controversy over a threatened tariff against Mexico for its failure to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the U.S. border. Despite the last-minute deal with Mexico purportedly avoiding the tariff, President Donald Trump was back on the weekend threatening “very profitable tariffs” on Mexico. Whatever the purpose of such tariffs, however, they are unlikely to solve our problem with unlawful immigration absent greater enforcement on this side of the border. My point is not to call for wholesale prosecutions. Indeed, the primary concern is not the hiring by families or small businesses, but rather large operations with large percentages of undocumented workers. If there government truly wants to curtail the undocumented workforce (and that is uncertain), hammering the immigrants at the border or attempting mass deportations is unlikely to succeed. There remains a striking disconnect between the level of enforcement directed at undocumented individuals as opposed to large employers of undocumented persons…
Immigration, it seems, is an offense committed solely by undocumented persons. While the president has charged that undocumented workers take away jobs from citizens, neither political party appears eager to deal with those employers who give away those jobs, despite undocumented persons making up an estimated 5 percent of the workforce. In California, Nevada, and Texas, they make up almost 10 percent of the workforce.
Toughness does not extend to those who benefit most from unlawful hiring. There are no federal agents being asked to get “a little rough” with corporate executives. On paper, federal law is clear and tough. It is illegal to hire, recruit, or refer illegal immigrants for hire. It also is illegal to fail to verify work authorization. Knowledge of unlawful hiring can be inferred from the lack of proof or from suspicious job applications…(more)