Friday, August 10, 2007

US To Tighten Employment Rules For Migrants

From the FT today:

US to clamp down on illegal migration

By Andrew Ward in Washington

Published: August 10 2007 21:35 | Last updated: August 10 2007 23:55

President George W. Bush’s administration announced a clampdown on illegal immigration on Frirday, six weeks after a more ambitious plan to tackle the problem collapsed in Congress.

The latest measures mainly involve tighter enforcement of existing laws – posing a challenge to the many US employers now reliant on migrant workers.

“The message we are conveying today is pretty simple: we are serious about immigration enforcement,” said Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary.

Mr Bush made immigration reform a priority of his second term, backing bipartisan legislation that aimed to strengthen border security while offering a path to citizenship for the estimated 12m illegal immigrants already in the US.

But the bill collapsed in June amid fierce opposition from grassroots Republicans, who accused Mr Bush of offering an amnesty to those who entered the US illegally.

The measures announced on Friday reflected the pressure on Mr Bush to get tough on the highly charged issue of illegal immigration.

The White House acknowledged there was little chance of Congress passing immigration legislation in the foreseeable future. “Until Congress chooses to act, we’re going to be taking some energetic steps of our own,” said Mr Chertoff.

One rule proposed on Friday would mandate employers to sack workers unable to verify their legal status within 90 days. Employers who failed to comply would face possible criminal fines and sanctions. “We’re going to continue to clamp down on employers who knowingly and wilfully violate the laws,” said Mr Chertoff.

Carlos Gutierrez, the commerce secretary, promised to streamline existing visa rules to help industries, such as agriculture and hospitality, that rely on migrant labour. “We will use every available tool to provide America’s farmers, ranchers and small businesses with a legal workforce, to stay in business and keep our economy strong,” he said.

Edward Kennedy, the Democratic senator who helped craft the failed immigration bill, said the proposals were no substitute for comprehensive reform.

“Without strong new laws, the administration’s plan will do little to enhance our security and will hurt millions of immigrant families who are contributing so much to our communities and our economy,” he said.

Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator who opposed the bill, said the measures were not tough enough. “I won’t be happy until I see action that’s more than just a press conference and words on a piece of paper.”

No comments: