Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 21, 2005

Driving Them Off With Kindness

It is curious that those who say they seriously wish to restrict the inflow of illegal (or "undocumented") workers into the United Staes spend so little time on the most economically obvious approach: If illegal workers' cost advantage over native workers were removed, then there would be no incentive to hire illegal workers.

It is equally curious that the breach is being filled by those purporting to "protect" the illegals. A prior post noted that California courts have held that illegal workers are entitled to sue their employers for back pay to the extentn their actual pay is less than minimun wage. Most illegals are paid far more than minimun wage, so the effect of that decision will be trivial. The going rate for the Home Depot parking lot guys in Los Angeles is $10 per hour, for example.

But those who say they oppose the presence and employment of illegal immigants continue to oppose measures that would reduce their cost advantages. And those who would protect illegal workers continue in their ceaseless quest to drive them out of the United States (or at least California) by showering them with unalienable and expensive rights, including workers compensation and medical care:
Illegal immigrants hurt on the job are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, a state appeals court panel has ruled, upholding California's policy of granting workplace rights to undocumented employees. Torrance coffee roaster Farmer Bros. Co. had sought to deny workers' comp benefits to an injured employee who was in the country illegally. The company argued that federal immigration laws superseded the state's system for treating victims of workplace injuries.

But the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, in a ruling published late Monday, said federal immigration statutes didn't preempt state laws governing workers' comp insurance, minimum wage guarantees and occupational health and safety protections.

"California law has expressly declared immigration status irrelevant to the issue of liability to pay compensation to an injured worker," the court ruled, upholding an earlier decision by the state Workers' Compensation Appeals Board against Farmer Bros.

Experts said the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel was the first time an appeals court in California had specifically upheld the right of illegal immigrants to receive medical care and disability benefits for on-the-job injuries.

A finding in favor of Farmer Bros. would have been "devastating" and "would have put hundreds of thousands of workers at real risk," said Merle Rabine, a commissioner on the workers' comp appeals board, which had previously ruled that illegal immigrants were entitled to benefits.

An estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants live in California, according to the state Department of Finance. ....

Advocates for tougher immigration control criticized the ruling and called for the federal government to get tough in penalizing employers who hire illegal immigrants.

"We can't reward people for breaking the law," said Andy Ramirez, a spokesman for Friends of the Border Patrol, a Covina-based group that sends members to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico.

"Employers of illegal aliens should be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he said.
Ah, yes, Mr. Ramirez. Whatever you say.

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