Last week we saw a crack down on illegal immigrants at Wal-Marts across the country. I know that immigration can be an emotional topic, but as an employer as well as a grandson of immigrants, here’s my perspective on immigration and how it affects the workplace:
1. I'm 100% in favor of immigration. I've traveled to many countries overseas and have seen poverty on a grand scale. We live like royalty in the USA. The opportunities in this country are wonderful and should be open to all honest working people. I'm thankful my grandparents immigrated here. My grandfather did not speak English when he moved here, but because of the freedom he found here, he opened a business and earned a good living for his family.
2. I don't care what country immigrants are from or what "color" they are or what language they speak. If they're trying to earn an honest living, let them come.
3. By America not enforcing its standing immigration policies, we put ourselves at risk. If we want to continue to be a nation ruled by law, then everyone should obey those laws or we don't have a coherent society. In other words, if we're going to enforce immigration laws on some people but not on others, that's illegal discrimination, double standards, and/or useless laws, all rolled into one.
4. One of the biggest problems we have in this country is with dishonest people who care nothing for the laws of the land. This happens at all levels of society. Corporate executives at places like Enron and Global Crossing who fudge their books to pull one over on people. Middle managers who steal from their employers. People growing up in the inner-city thinking its fun to rob convenience stores. When people disobey laws, society suffers.
5. America's immigration policies are in place to prevent people with excessive criminal records from entering this country. This is a reasonable policy. Interestingly, immigration policies are much tougher in other developed countries. For example, if one wants to immigrate to Australia, one must PROVE to the Australian government that by moving there you will contribute to society and not be a burden on it! We’re no where near as tough: All the American policy wants to know is are you a danger to society? That is the main reason for background checks - to keep our society as safe as possible.
6. With all the threats to kill Americans simply because they are American, and with terrorists wanting to get into this country in order to kill and create terror, I believe it's in everyone's best interest to make sure those that come in to our country are "cleared" properly. It's never a foolproof system, but I think we are stupid if we don't even try.
7. I know that illegal workers are simply trying to make a living, but if they use illegal methods to enter this country then they are breaking the law. Again, if we are a country ruled by law, then following those laws is part of living in a free society.
8. Some say that it will cost us a lot more for screening people and for paying legal wages to people willing to do work that no one else wants to do. I agree that it will, and I am willing to pay my fair share to make that happen. I believe it to be the ethical and honest thing to do. Especially if it means we will be safer as a nation.
9. As a huge benefit to immigrants, if they are "legal" – that is, they enter the country through the proper means and go through a background check – they are eligible for SSI benefits. But if the USA gives benefits to illegal immigrants who are not paying taxes like legal workers do, it puts a huge drain on society’s pocketbook. The ripple-effect of this is hard financial times for everyone, including those immigrants seeking an honest living.
10. Since the government fines employers $10,000 for any employee who is not legal to work in the US, it is in every employer’s best interest to check proper identification and submit accurate I-9 forms.
Bottom line: By us ignoring the laws, it creates double standards, it increases the likelihood of criminals entering our country, and it causes the immigrants to lose out on what could be rightfully theirs as citizens and/or legal workers. As an employer and a citizen, I want to live in a safe country, and I want the same for my employees as well as our immigrants. If we obey the laws, we make it a better world for everyone, including the immigrants.