Irca Essay, Research Paper
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was designed to control the size of the illegal alien population in the United States. Many believed that the increasing number of immigrants caused social and economical problems, like an increase in welfare consumption and unemployment. The supporters of this act believed that the illegal immigrants were coming to the states and taking all the jobs away from Americans, resulting in high unemployment rates among citizens, who they felt were more entitled to these jobs. Many felt that those who were not working were bottomfeeders, sucking off of America’s social benefits. However, most of the jobs that the immigrants were taking, were those that majority of U.S. citizens did not want, and the migrant workers who worked these jobs were being exploited by the laws presented in this act. Consequently, in trying to improve social problems, the act may have created other, more serious problems, in the process. (Thesis) Some of the more important parts to IRCA were its provisions on employment. Supporters believed that if employment for illegals became scarce, than they would get discouraged and head back to their native countries. Before IRCA, laws prevented illegal immigrants from working in the U.S.A., but no laws about hiring illegals, were ever put on the employers. The new act established sanctions on the employers, making it illegal “for any person to knowingly hire, recruit, or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work in the United States.”(Congressional Digest 228) IRCA made employers have to prove each employee’s right to work in the United States with certain legal documents, and were punished them with fines and possible imprisonment if they hired any undocumented workers. One irony about IRCA is that it left some employment positions that were unwanted by U.S. citizens available for the migrant workers, namely farm work. IRCA allowed employers to hire foreigners temporarily, pending approval from the Secretary of Labor. The Secretary of Labor and Agriculture also determined the amount of workers that could be admitted. This shows that the government knew how much the nation’s agricultural profits depended on the cheap labor of the migrant workers. So basically they made a few exceptions to their rules to fit their own economic needs. Though the Government allowed itself to reap the financial benefits of these workers, they didn’t give many benefits to the workers themselves. The field workers had to work for about three months every year for three years before they could be considered for permanent residence status. This means that if one year the Secretary of Labor and Agriculture decides that there isn’t as much need for workers as there was the previous year, the surplus workers get sent home without any consideration for the work they did. If the worker successfully finishes his three-year term, and is granted permanent status, he must still remain a field worker for three months every year for five years. During the five year period, the worker will be denied any public assistance, until he is accepted as a citizen. What the government is really doing here is a sugar coating their exploitation of these migrant workers, by paying very small wages for very hard work, and no benefits, with the promise of a little better in the years to come. Now it’s true that most of these workers haven’t seen much better in other countries, but that does not justify how much the United States government is taking advantage of their situations.
“The bill’s supporters were concerned that companies would refuse to hire Hispanics or foreign-appearing workers rather than run the risk of fines.”(Finch 247) Consequently, the act included a passage barring the employer from discriminating against legal workers of foreign decent. However, since the details of discrimination were never clearly defined, the law became completely subjective. This leaves the question of discrimination up to anybody’s interpretation, and any act of discrimination committed against an applicant would be extremely hard to prove. When someone applies for a job, they are rarely aware of who else might have applied for that position. Most employers contact people when they are hired, but very seldom do they feel the need to contact those who are not hired. So the applicant is left completely uniformed about why he did not get hired for the position, and why those who were hired did. This makes it almost impossible to know if the applicant has been a victim of discrimination in the first place. And if he somehow finds out, proving it would be a big chore; probably not even worth the effort. You can tell somebody not to discriminate towards other people but you are never going to change the way they act and believe. Discrimination in the work place has always been a problem in this country since the beginning when slave owners forced African Americans to work without pay. So when a country passes laws prohibiting one group of people from receiving the same workers rights as another, a statement about equality is not going to effect the whole reality of the situation. The racial discrimination that IRCA supporters were afraid of has already existed for years and unfortunately it will still be here for years come. However, one thing that was not expected was a different kind of discrimination, that involves employers simply not wanting to deal with the complications that the new policies have imposed on them. Some critics of this “are supported by a 1990 GAO report maintaining that employer sanctions had resulted in discrimination against some authorized workers, attributing much of it to confusion over document requirements and other procedures associated with this complex legislation.”(McNary 23) For this very reason, members of congress believe that these employer sanctions should be repealed. In an attempt to improve economical and social conditions the government passed these laws on immigration, believing that illegal immigration plays a major factor in the cause of these problems. However, in the process these conditions can become worse. The exploitation of migrant workers can cause tremendous social problems in the communities that these workers reside. It can lead to poverty, crime, and lack of productivity. There is little evidence that the social services that the members of these minority groups receive, and the jobs that they work, are causing any substantial harm to the economy. In fact the low wages which many of the workers are willing to receive, could contribute more to society than they are taking. These sorts of laws are destroying the free market economy from which our country wealth has been built on. Discriminatory laws will eventually create a separatist society and economy, which will destroy what the country is founded on, as well as the slow increasing moral of our minority communities.