Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Small Businesses Agree That Undocumented Immigration is a Problem, But Are Divided on Solution; Lawsuits Filed

In a National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey, 90 percent of small business owners agreed that undocumented immigration is a problem. “Like most Americans, small-business owners are troubled by the problem of illegal immigration,” said Dan Danner, NFIB’s executive vice president of NFIB. “As Congress debates this issue, it is important that they take into account how any legislation will affect small-business owners and the economy. A thoughtful and deliberate process is the best path for lawmakers as they consider this contentious issue.”

The survey respondents have a mixed view on “amnesty” proposals, however. NFIB reported that 63 percent oppose amnesty for undocumented individuals if they only need to prove that they have been living in the U.S. for at least three years, but members are split on amnesty if the individuals are employed and not dependent on government services (45 percent in favor and 45 percent opposing). When asked who should be considered first priority for legal immigration, 43 percent said those who have job skills or qualifications that are in short supply, followed by 23 percent choosing those with family ties, and 20 percent preferring a “first-come, first-serve” system. Fifty-six percent of NFIB members support admitting foreign workers to fill skilled jobs where shortages exist, and 62 percent favor allowing people to enter the U.S., work for a specified period, and return home.

Increasing penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers was supported by 78 percent of the survey respondents. Small-business owners consider verification of identification documents used by an employee to prove eligibility to work a moderate burden that could be reduced by a single location verification/authorization system that would certify document authenticity, NFIB reported.

The survey announcement is posted here.

Meanwhile, some entrepreneurs and workers are not waiting for action in Congress. A variety of lawsuits have been filed to compel employers to meet their obligations under the law. For example, when Munger Bros., a California blueberry farm, decided to use a rival labor supplier instead of Global Horizons, Global filed a suit claiming that Munger Bros. hired the rival supplier (J&A Contracting) because it provides cheaper, illegal workers. Specifically, Global alleges that Munger Bros. and J&A “engaged in an illegal trust to restrict trade or commerce and conspired to restrain trade or commerce and lessen competition by Defendants’ use of illegal immigrant labor and violation of California wage and hour laws to those workers, the effect of which restrains and directly affects Plaintiff’s ability to compete in the marketplace.” The full text of the complaint is posted here.

And in a suit against Zirkle Fruit in Washington, a $1.3 million settlement was recently reached. That suit, based on anti-racketeering laws, was filed by Zirkle’s employees, who claimed that their employer depressed wages by hiring undocumented workers. A similar suit has been filed by workers against Mohawk Industries in Georgia.

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.