How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

How to curb illegal hiring? Mimic some characteristics of illegal immigration

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A new report from the Migration Policy Institute that was funded by the European Union addresses the never-ending quandary over unauthorized workers, as much of an issue in Europe as it is in the United States.

Wherever unauthorized workers are hired, the draw of the underground economy is a leading driver of illegal immigration, the report notes.

These workers are not only cheaper to hire, but are also a boon to employers because they come with "no strings attached," providing employers with greater flexibility that makes running a business easier.

Now for the question that has stumped political leaders for decades: What, if anything, can be done about it? From the report:

First, in order to bring employers who would have otherwise hired illegally into legal hiring, legal systems would have to mimic at least some of the characteristics of illegal migration.

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An exception for 'the help' in an anti-illegal immigration bill: good, bad, or ugly reality?

Photo by Bulent Yusef/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A detail from a mural in London, June 2006

An anti-illegal immigration bill introduced recently in Texas proposing tough state sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized workers makes an exception: It's okay to hire an undocumented maid, gardener, or other employee "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."

Since its introduction late last month, its sponsor state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who is known for having a particularly tough-on-immigration stance (and perhaps best for the term "terror babies"), has received a fair amount of criticism and perhaps an equal share of ridicule, while others have praised her for being realistic.

After all, as evidenced by the undocumented housekeeper scandal that helped derail the campaign of California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman last fall, few Americans are immune from the underground economy. The proposed Texas law threatens to punish employers with up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, so including those who hire domestic help as offenders could mean a lot of Texans in hot water, no doubt a few politicos among them.

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