Illegal Irish forced out of jobs in US crackdown
Eoin Reynolds in California - Sunday August 14 2011
UNDOCUMENTED Irish in America are being forced out of their black market jobs by tough new measures to clamp down on illegal workers, according to the Immigration Rights Commission (IRC) in San Francisco.
IRC chairman Angus Mc-Carthy said new e-verification forms had forced thousands of illegals to quit their jobs.
He said: "The e-verification number has changed the game for workers here. Under this system you have to prove you are legal to keep your job so workers are being given the option of complying, or leaving their jobs."
E-verification requires a worker to provide documents to an employer that are then compared to Homeland Security files to assess if the person is legally entitled to work in the US. Anyone whose documents do not match up is likely to be arrested and deported.
At present it is only mandatory for employers working on federal contracts to e-verify their workers.
However, a number of industries have taken it upon themselves to implement the rules, fearing that they will be penalised in the future if they are found to be employing illegals.
The Latino community has been hardest hit as the fast-food and hotel industries have been the most rigorous in implementing the system.
But Irish workers who are "caught up in the crossfire" are also struggling and there is currently a bill before the house to make e-verification mandatory for all sectors.
Sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, Bill S1196 would force all employers to fully comply with e-verification within one year.
Felix Feuntes, of the Immigration Rights Commission in San Francisco, said the construction sector was also beginning to comply with the regulations.
Construction has long been one of the most important employers for illegal Irish in the US but it now faces a major overhaul.
Employers, fearing a backlash from future governments, are becoming increasingly likely to let go of any illegals on their books.
This legislation, if enacted, could have a devastating effect on the undocumented Irish communities in the U.S. The tragedy is that it would, most likely, make a very limited number of steady jobs available to persons with work authorization. The reason is that small independent contractors hire workers for short periods as the work load dictates. They may only need somebody for a few days and then let them go. This is a way of life that would not be either suitable or acceptable to authorized workers looking for steady employment. The small contractors would not have a source of temporary workers available when they are needed. The economy would lose the money that undocumented workers spend on goods and services and the necessities of life. The sum total would be a “lose, lose, situation for everybody involved” Senator Grassley’s time would be much better spent in trying to find a real solution to our broken U.S. immigration system.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America