Small Business and Illegal Immigration

This comes from CNN Money article entitled “Blowing the whistle on illegal immigrants” (excerpted):

To see the latest front in the war over illegal immigration, take a look at Mordechai Orian. The 41-year-old owns Global Horizons, a Los Angeles-based service that supplies seasonal agricultural workers to apple, blueberry, and potato growers across the country. In May, Orian lost one of his biggest clients: Munger Bros., a Delano, Calif., blueberry farm, which decided to use a rival labor supplier, J&A Contracting of Bakersfield, Calif.

Munger Bros. executives say they switched suppliers when Global Horizons failed to live up to its contract, but Orian suspects a different motive. J&A, he says, provides cheaper, illegal workers, scooping workers up on street corners by the vanload and delivering them to farms. He says he has evidence of falsified Social Security cards [emphasis added] to prove his assertions. And rather than filing a complaint with the federal government, Orian is taking both Munger and J&A to court. (A copy of Orian’s complaint can be downloaded at fearnotlaw.com/gallery/download.php?id=34.)

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs who scrupulously follow the law are routinely victimized by competitors who hire cheap, illegal labor – a breach that routinely goes unpunished by the federal government.

Now, tired of waiting for the legislative branch to solve the problem, entrepreneurs are turning to the courts. Their actions have put corner-cutters on notice: Break the immigration laws and you have not only the government to fear, but your fellow business owners as well. David Klehm, Orian’s lawyer, says that his suit is the first of its kind, but experts say it presages a new era.

But it is not only rival companies that are going after outfits that hire illegal immigrants. The Global Horizons case follows a $1.3 million settlement in a Washington State class-action suit involving employees of Zirkle Fruit who sued their employer, claiming that it drove down wages by hiring undocumented workers. That suit was based on federal RICO – or anti-racketeering – laws, and was settled after a federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision to dismiss it.

Employees have also filed an ongoing suit against Mohawk Industries…a carpet manufacturer in Dalton, Ga.

But for Orian, whose case is expected to be decided this spring, the battle is a matter of pride as well as price. He’s an immigrant himself – he arrived from Israel in 1997 – and while he has yet to become an American citizen, he is the proud holder of a green card. His example, he says, proves that immigrants can be successful in business while staying on the right side of the law.

Businesses and the public (as well as workers) want a level playing field.  I guess that’s really the only comment to make on this one.   Be sure to note the reference to the identity theft used as evidence.

Moving along, however, the NYT also had an article about some businesses having a fit about the upcoming DHS rule.  They even try to play the race card by attempting to assert that hispanics will be targeted by the new rules.  That is pure and simple “horse hockey”.  The rule applies to all SSN mismatches (regardless or race or country of origin) – mismatched numbers can not see a person’s color etc.  On the upside, the NYT’s article inadvertently acknowledges the use of stolen SSNs and/or forged documents by illegal immigrants (but fails to note fugitives and criminals do so as well and would be affected):

Experts said the new rules represented a major tightening of the immigration enforcement system, in which employers for decades have paid little attention to notices, known as no-match letters, from the Social Security Administration that workers’ names and numbers did not match the agency’s records.

Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for Social Security, said the agency expected to send out about 140,000 no-match letters to employers this year, covering more than eight million workers. After the rules are announced, the agency is anticipating a surge in requests from employers seeking to clarify workers’ information, he said.

Social Security issues letters only to employers who have more than 10 workers whose numbers do not match, when those workers represent at least one-half of 1 percent of the company’s workforce, Mr. Hinkle said.

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