State should enforce ban on hiring illegal immigrants

Wisconsin’s first Latina state representative, JoCasta Zamarripa, was way off base in her attack of a state bill introduced by state Senate Democrats, Dave Hansen, Robert Wirch, Jon Erpenbach, Jim Holperin and Tim Carpenter and one state Rep. Tony Staskunas (co-author).

Senate Bill 137 would keep state funds, contracts, loans and grants from employers who hire undocumented immigrants. It would also allow penalties of up to $10,000 fine for each illegal worker hired.

The bill was introduced in the Labor, Public Safety and Urban Affairs Senate Committee. Zamarripa, other than saying the bill is divisive and does not address the issue of undocumented immigration, which is to say that Zamarripa has no practical alternative nor a vision of her own as to what to do about the undocumented immigration crises, believes the bill should be scrapped.

Well, she is wrong. There is ample evidence, research and studies that clearly indicate that the hiring of undocumented immigrant workers increases economic hardships on low-skilled documented workers, takes away opportunities for documented workers and creates an imbalance in the U.S. labor standards.

One report released by Wharton School and Cornell University argues that U.S. businesses in the construction, food service and delivery industries hiring undocumented workers is not only the norm, but a requirement in an increasingly competitive economy that constantly forces companies to cut costs while adding profits.

The Wharton/Cornell report maintains that undocumented workers exert downward pressure on wages and reduce job opportunities for low-skilled U.S. citizens and immigrants who are in country with valid documentation.

The report goes on to say that not holding American employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers severely compromises the labor standards for U.S. citizens and documented immigrants. To not hold employers who hire undocumented workers accountable is to support the actions of these employers who only hire these workers to exploit their labor and mistreat them at the work place.

Removing undocumented immigrants out of the labor force is a first order of business for policymakers. Zamarripa, however, made friends with these corporations and their allies who balk at the prospects of agreeing to better union contracts and added benefit expenses for workers, thus often demanding concessions from U.S. citizens and documented workers.

Voces de la Frontera will condemn this article and say that it is divisive and anti-immigrant, but I differ with the more irrational and counter-productive views of this organization’s leadership.

They argue that undocumented workers often perform jobs Americans refuse to do, including hazardous jobs, menial labor and low-wage work. This is a myth.

Undocumented immigrants are hired for these jobs not because Americans refuse them, but because Americans are not willing to perform such tasks where the wages are lower than they would be if such cheap source of labor were not available.

Look, the undocumented worker brings a good work ethic to the American labor landscape; they work hard, did not come here to receive welfare and should be allowed to remain in the U.S. after paying penalties.
Companies will continue to hire undocumented workers because they do not have to abide by established labor laws, provide adequate working conditions and invest in capital improvements.

Hell, some undocumented workers are working basically as slaves in some areas of the country.

To just come forward to say that SB 137 is “divisive” indicates lazy research and innate ignorance of the issue of undocumented immigration. Turning a blind eye to undocumented workers, as U.S. immigration authorities have done, harms U.S. citizens, documented immigrants and the undocumented.

Robert Miranda is executive director of Esperanza Unida Inc. in Milwaukee.

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