Friday, 18 February 2011 00:00
This piece is really about the use of words to describe people who have entered the United States through a violation of one or more laws. In recent weeks, the Society of Professional Journalists has called on its members to use the phrase “undocumented workers” to describe those who come here illegally and hold jobs. If you want more information about this organization, take a look at the website www.SPJ.org.
Depending on which statistics you look at the best estimates are that we currently have some eight million immigrants working here who did not enter the country with appropriate paper work. And that estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center may well be on the low side. At any rate, around 5.0 percent of our total work force fits into this category.
Our immigration laws are complex – just the same as tax laws. But, according to Continuing Legal Education from the Nassau County Bar Association, “Under immigration laws, an employer can be held liable civilly and criminally for knowingly employing an illegal alien.”
The current law requires that every employer must see the Social Security Card number for every employee. In addition, Social Security and Medicare taxes have to be withheld from each employee and remitted to the federal government. The challenge is in the enforcement.
One way workers avoid the law is almost unbelievable. Even if a worker is here in avoidance of the Immigration Laws, should they father a baby here, that child immediately becomes a legal resident and citizen. Naming the child with the same name as the father or mother gives a social security number to the parent to illegally use in employment. And beyond those working here, it is estimated that an additional eight to 10 million are also here without any documentation or in my words they are here illegally.
It is interesting to note that a million illegal immigrants were forced to leave the country during the administration of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. Looking back at history, the main reason was returning veterans from WWII who were unemployed. Both Presidents did not want illegals competing with veterans for employment.
The real challenge today is securing our borders. And that effort is extremely important for two reasons. First, our laws must be enforced. If you can get a ticket via “red light” cameras, why should we look the other way at people who are here illegally? Secondly, there is an even more important reason – securing our borders to prevent terrorists from entering this country. If eight million illegal workers can enter the United States, what about the number of terrorists?
The challenge is how do we secure our borders? With over 12,300 miles of coastline and over 7,500 miles of borders between Mexico and Canada, border security will be very difficult. But, the miles to cover should not be the challenge. Enforcing the laws of the United States should be the priority!