Last night, the candidates for the Republican nomination for President all endorsed mandatory background checks and strong punitive measures for employers regarding their workforce. After listening to an hour of these men stating how federal regulations are strangling small business, the cognitive dissonance of their responses on immigration was stunning. Each endorsed massive fines for employers who do not follow the government’s system for verifying the work authorization of their emplyees. Only Ron Paul noted that requiring businesses to verify, re-verify and monitor their employee’s immigration status and subjecting them to huge fines for failure made “the employer the policeman.”
Why is that when Washington mandates that employers follow labor, environmental, civil rights or health care laws, Washington is “strangling business and getting in the way,” but when Washington demands that employers acts as immigration agents or face, in Mitt Romney’s words, “severe sanctions,” that is a reasonable imposition on employers everywhere? Having reviewed business practices regarding the verification of workers’ authorization to be employed and the never-ending questions on approrpiate documentation, I can testify that businesses spend an inordinate amount of time and money on trying to comply with the federal immigration law. Yet, I never hear any of these candidates recognize that burden, with the exception of Ron Paul. Rather, they support increasing the burden and risks to employers and support laws like those in Arizona and Alabama that create the “business death penalty” for companies found to have illegally employed unauthorized workers. It is hard to think of anything that would kill business more than a death penalty.
Forcing employers to do the dirty work of indentifying the unauthorized workers from U.S. citizens and other authorized employees is a burden for businesses. Yet, it appears that it is a burden that the candidates for the Republican nomination want to keep in place and increase. It seems quite clear that their enmity for the immigrant is greater than their concern for unreasonable regulation of business.