It’s time for the feds to go after those who employ illegal aliens
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If the Trump administration is serious about controlling illegal immigration and illegal alien driven crime, it should begin by going after employers who hire illegal aliens. The move would not only help to prevent the exploitation of illegal immigrants, but it would also help to foster higher-paying jobs for American workers.

Studies have shown that while illegal immigration can lower wages across all economic classes, it has the largest negative impact on those who lack a high school degree. As an added social cost, the practice also results in widespread identity theft by immigrants who steal Social Security numbers from men, women and children across the country so that they can gain legal employment.


But in order to preserve access to cheap labor, special interest groups oppose sanctions, and do everything possible to ensure that the law is not enforced. That's been the case for decades. It took only five years from the time that President Reagan granted amnesty to three million illegal aliens for employers to convince Utah Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDrug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 Financial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted MORE to introduce a bill that would have eliminated all employer sanctions that were part of the Reagan amnesty deal.


The bill failed after Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., and a coalition of other black and Hispanic leaders pointed out the “the devastating impact" that illegal employment had on semi-skilled workers, "a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Hispanic." She attributed opposition to enforcing the law to those who sought to "abuse undocumented workers and introduce cheap labor into the U.S. workforce.”

Though proponents of lax law enforcement failed on that occasion, they have used their financial and political power to ensure that sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens have not been enforced in more recent years.

With increased enforcement by the Trump administration, it's time now to change that precedent, and to go after those who employ illegal aliens instead of simply their employees. Whenever an illegal alien is arrested, officials should carefully scrutinize their work history and charge both the individual and their employer for any crimes related to employment fraud or identity theft.

As an additional step, the administration could also require all employers to use the E-Verify system, which matches self-reported employment information with government data. It should mandate that the Social Security Administration send out mismatch letters when employers have individuals using Social Security numbers that do not match their names, and it should require the IRS to notify American citizens whenever their Social Security numbers are used for employment purposes. It should sharply increase the number of I-9 audits, and it should bring charges against all employers who are found to be violating the law.

Finally, the administration should encourage federal, state and local law enforcement officers to verify the Social Security number of every person arrested and to charge individuals using fraudulent Social Security numbers with the appropriate federal or state felonies (Social Security fraud, forgery, identity theft, and so on). It could also make greater use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in order to hold employers accountable.

Applying the law equally should not be negotiable. Employers should not be allowed to violate the law with impunity simply because they have greater political and economic power than those they employ. Equal justice requires that both illegal immigrants and their employers be held accountable for the very real and very serious harm that they cause to innocent Americans. 

Ronald Mortensen is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies (@wwwCISorg), a nonprofit group that advocates for legal immigration. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Utah and previously worked as a Foreign Service Officer.

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