Labor & Employment

Immigrant Crackdown, But More Temps

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Updated: An effort to get Congress to pass an immigration bill promoted by the White House failed this year. So the executive branch is trying again.

An enhanced program of government enforcement against employers who hire illegal immigrants was announced by the Bush administration today. Employers who ignore immigration laws are now more likely to be prosecuted, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and face 25 percent higher penalties for violations, reports Reuters.

At the same time, however, the White House is also making it easier for foreign temporary workers to come to this country legally and stay longer, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“Immigrant advocates said the administration had been quietly sounding them out about creative ways to bring more temporary workers into the United States,” the newspaper writes. Plus, “the administration will streamline a temporary-worker program for seasonal workers, such as those who shell crabs or staff summer resorts. It also will extend the length of visas for highly skilled workers from Canada and Mexico from one year to three.”

The administration’s new immigration programs are intended to enhance security by reducing the number of unknown foreigners who come to this country without government permission or oversight, yet allow those who rely on immigrant labor to continue to hire the workers they need, according to the article.

An post earlier this week details how the new enforcement program is expected to apply to employers who cannot provide social security numbers for workers. Among other measures, employers reportedly could be fined up to $10,000 if they fail to terminate workers who do not have verifiable documents.

(Originally posted at 11:15 a.m., central time.)

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