A crackdown on illegal immigration will have to go forward without help from Congress, the Bush administration said Friday.
At a joint news conference, Secretary Chertoff and Gutierrez put the onus on Congress for any consequences that may be suffered by employers as result of the stepped-up enforcement effort.
“Our hope is that key elements of the Senate bill will see the light of day someday, but until Congress chooses to act, we are going to be taking some energetic steps of our own,” Chertoff said. The steps will “significantly strengthen our hand with respect to immigration enforcement.”
The administration rolled out a proposed rule that will require employers to fire employees unable to clear up problems with their Social Security numbers 90 days after they’ve been notified of such discrepancies in so-called “no match letters.” Employers who fail to comply will face possible criminal fines and sanctions. It seems that this rule will be effective in 30 days. In addition, Chertoff said he will try to use the department’s regulatory authority to raise fines on employers by about 25 percent. Current fines are so modest that some companies consider them a cost of doing business.
Recognizing that the crackdown could hurt some industries, particularly agriculture where more than half of workers are believed to be undocumented, Gutierrez said the Labor Department will try to make existing temporary seasonal agriculture worker and non-agriculture worker programs easier to use and more efficient.
I hope that the H2B and H2A visa programs will be improved and visas will no longer be subject to the limited cao they are subject today. Employers will need to pay a closer look at the hiring practices at their companies, otherwise they will start paying fines and serving time.