As the argument goes back and forth whether illegal aliens are being granted amnesty in the immigration reform bill, no one is disputing the fact that employers who gave illegals jobs are going to be given a pass.
Employers who have allowed illegal immigrants to work off the books can come forward safely and provide their work history without fear of prosecution, and businesses that knowingly employed someone using a bogus or stolen Social Security number likewise would get a pass, according to an analysis of the bill by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that wants a crackdown on immigration.
"The illegal workers at least have to pay a token fine. The employers of illegal immigrants who violated a whole list of laws themselves don't even have to pay," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the center. "It's the business side of the amnesty that doesn't get a lot of focus."
Business groups' support is considered critical to getting a bill passed this year, but attention has been focused mostly on a guest worker program and requirements that all employers would have to meet, such as using an electronic verification system to check potential hires.
Indeed, it wasn't until business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, struck a deal with the AFL-CIO on a guest worker program that the final Senate bill came together.
The chamber said the provisions exempting businesses from penalties "had nothing to do" with earning their support."Our focus in assessing the bill was looking to the good faith compliance and safe harbor provisions and other terms of the E-Verify mandate, the revisions to the high-skilled worker program, and the creation of a workable low-skilled worker program," said Blair Holmes, a chamber spokeswoman.
The crux of the Senate bill, negotiated by four Republican senators and four Democrats, would legalize most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but withhold a full pathway to citizenship for most of them until after the Homeland Security Department takes more steps to secure the border and implements the electronic verification system for employers.
Even if a business hired someone knowing they were illegal, knowing their ID's were bogus, and keeping them off the books so they didn't have to pay FICA or withhold taxes, they skate? I guess criminal conspiracy just isn't the crime it used to be.
The question is what happens going forward? There are still going to be illegals trying to get jobs in America. If an employer knowingly hires an illegal what should be the punishment?
Many immigration reform advocates believe that jail time should go to employers who are in clear violation of the law. A few high profile cases where the employer is sentenced to prison will go a long way toward reducing the practice.
But the Chamber has fought jail time for employers all along and it is doubtful it will be included in any final bill. This means that despite the amnesty, the illegal hiring will continue - until the next immigration reform bill is considered, at which point many of these same businesses will be amnestied again.