A New Effort to Crack Down on Illegal Immigrants

Julia Preston in an NY Times article titled “ US Set for a Crackdown on Illegal Hiring” talks about the federal government’s, particularly the Department of Homeland Security with the Social Security Administration, intention to toughen rules requiring a business to fire a worker who falsified their social security number. This is a means to go about the immigration reform that Congress couldn’t agree on.

There is an ideal and a reality here. The ideal is to say that everyone that works in this country needs to pay taxes and be accountable to the system that they are benefiting from. The reality is there are so many illegal workers for various reasons woven into the fabric of US output that getting everyone to have proper papers is not financially feasible. A system of overly punishing the companies that hire them will only create a wink wink nod nod atmosphere. My guess is that we will see an increase in sophistication in fake documentation, an increase in identity theft crime, and an increase in paying under the table. Maybe a strategy is to shuffle around the immigrants as they wait on the Social Security No Match to come back. Either way, it will create many new illegal immigrants without money, but living in the US. A short term upsurge in crime could result.

The companies that had hired them will now need to fill their roles. Unfortunately, there might not be anyone to fill them. Unemployment is low across the board and the jobs that many illegal immigrants do are considered undesireable to those with choices.

The question is how big a piece of the economic pie is this? Will employers have to increase pay to motivate immigrants that previously had no paperwork to get it? What about the minimum wage? Is a $10,000 fine too strong?


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