Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Undocumented immigrant wages and reform

One of the promises that come along with immigration reform is the hopes that employers will stop engaging in repressive acts when it comes to hiring on an immigrant workforce. Immigrants have long endured unsafe working conditions, being deprived of employee benefits, and having other essential accommodations and needs met.

Obviously, not paying workers an adequate wage will always be of great concern, but undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable in not being properly paid often because of their own precarious legal situation. Though employers will often use the immigrant worker's status against them when workers complain about work-related conditions, these same employers have often financially benefited by being able to hire on cheap and reliable labor.

One undocumented laborer in California was promised a wage of $8.00 per hour at a car wash, but instead he was only paid $7.00 per hour and never fully compensated for all of the hours that he put in. Yet he was paid well compared to many immigrants employed at other car washes that were paid only in tips or were sometimes paid less than $2.00 per hour.

Obviously, little can be done if the immigrants believe that they have no legal rights to contest the actions of the employers. The circumstances are likely to continue unless the undocumented workers are provided some means to work in America legally.

However, both employers and employees need to understand that specific practices when it comes to undocumented immigrants will not be legally tolerated, and the penalties to employers for not abiding by employment-based immigration laws could result in that business being shutdown.

If California employers or employees have questions regarding employment-based immigration laws, it would help for them to speak to experienced lawyers in this area.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Immigration reform prevents employer abuse," by Leo W. Gerard, Feb. 4, 2013

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