We've seen them: day laborers lining up in parking lots, on street corners, and in front of employment offices, in hope of finding employment. Some feel that regulating these groups of illegals is the answer because "they are only illegal because the system is broken."
Among the many items that the Senate's "comprehensive" immigration reform bill, supported by President Bush, failed to address was whether local governments could continue to force taxpayers to subsidize illegal behavior.
That's happening across the United States, and it is a growing trend.
Local governments are building or forcing the construction of hiring centers. These are meeting places for immigrants seeking work and employers seeking cheap labor. Often times these centers help match up skills of a day laborer and what the employer is seeking.
That's despite a seldom enforced federal prohibition that says an employer can be prosecuted for shielding illegal immigrants and for violating federal tax laws.
In 1992 there were five such centers. In 2005 there were 140 nationwide, most supported at least in part by the local governments, according to a study in January by the University of California Los Angeles. Nationally, 84% of the nation's 117,000 day laborers are here illegally, the study said.
The centers sometimes offer job training skills, English as a second language courses and advocacy for immigrants who aren’t being paid. The centers keep a record as to who is hiring the day workers.
But the centers are little more than a government reward to employers that don't provide benefits or pay taxes on cheap labor, said John Vinson, president of the American Immigration Control Foundation in Washington.
"This is government using tax dollars to subsidize lawbreaking," Vinson said. "This situation is occurring more and more around the country. You set these centers up and they become a magnet for illegals. More are coming in. This undercuts the honest contractor who can't compete with the contractor paying workers under the table."
The often-derided House immigration reform bill that passed late last year would have prohibited these centers.
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A congregation of loitering illegal aliens, waiting to break the law again by accepting employment from another group of law-breakers: willing employers. "They are illegal because the system is broken" is not true. They are illegal because they have been encouraged to come by greedy and unscrupulous employers and by government officials from many countries that count on sending their problems abroad and on the billions of remittance dollars generated during their employment at the expense of those that are honestly trying to follow rules and regulations. And to add insult to injury, unknown to them, they are supported and subsidized by the American taxpayer.