“What is troubling to me … is a policy which treats people differently under the law solely based upon their immigration status” (Ms. Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President).
“What is troubling to me … is a policy which treats some people better than citizens solely based upon their illegal status.” (US taxpayer, 2012)
Through knowing an illegal individual in a lawful society, it is possible to understand some of the pieces in this puzzle. It is a slippery slope, and the individuals on this path draw others into their illegal wake as they ply their trades. This short story documents a single individual’s slippery slope, as well as the folks who are caught-up in the same web.
We have had many nominees to high federal office denied confirmation solely because of their hiring, knowingly or not, an individual who was undocumented. These early days have now been institutionalized in federal policies which enable illegal immigrants and grant them forgiveness from living under the same rules as citizens and taxpayers.
Maria is now, and has always worked as a waitress. I am only one of her many customers. She has been in the country now for almost 15 years, having immigrated from Europe when she was a young adult. She may have been sponsored by relatives or acquaintances who were already in the country. Her English is flawless, and unless you asked, you would guess she was born in the United States. She is very bright, very pretty, and a hard worker.
Indeed I do not even know why she is illegal, but I suspect it is from over-staying a visa or work permit. If she was legal initially, and simply failed to maintain her status appropriately, this would be a somewhat lesser offense. In no way does it reduce her status as an illegal person, or the complicity of others who are drawn into her web.
Her status as an illegal was revealed in hushed tones by a fellow worker who had first-hand knowledge, and the conditions of her then current employment. While it sounds innocent enough, she worked for tips only. This understanding with her employer is the first step into America’s underground and illegal economy. This is also the web through which she draws others into her illegal lair.
U.S. minimum wage laws require that all employees, whether full or part time, must be paid an hourly equivalent or salary. While each state may require its own minimum wage, working for tips only opens Pandora’s Box of less than legal compensation. An employer who agrees to this form of compensation is complicit in supporting the person’s illegal status, and is the second to look the other way. The employer’s guilt is not by association, but by aiding and abetting the person’s illegal status.
There are multiple consequences which follow from this innocent appearing employment agreement. One set of consequences is the employer’s legal responsibilities for all employees. It is likely that Maria does not appear on any of the employer’s official documents as an employee. All tips are paid to Maria in cash on a daily basis leaving no record of the recipient or the amounts paid. The employer has no record of her earnings to report to the IRS, and no basis on which to withhold and pay taxes on her earnings as required by law.
All employers are required to calculate and make regular deposits of funds for withholding with the IRS, Social Security, Workers Compensation, and state administered unemployment benefits. As Maria is not an employee of record, no contributions are made in her name for any of these benefits. The failure of the employer to report Maria as an employee, and the allied failure to make deposits to these funds means she is not eligible to receive these benefits when otherwise appropriate. These clear violations of law mean the employer is sticking his head through a noose hoping that he will never be reported.
The benefits of this illicit arrangement accrue to both Maria and her non-employer. She earns money with the understanding that her illegal status will not be revealed. She willingly agrees to give up the benefits other employees receive through legitimate employment. The employer has a reliable employee on whom he excuses himself from making the legal deposits from her income, Social Security, Worker’s Compensation, and Unemployment Benefits. On the surface this would appear to be an equitable arrangement.
Maria, on the other hand, is unable to report earnings and pay taxes on her employment as they are not a matter of record. She is provided no record of earnings, and withholding for purposes of paying income taxes is not possible. As her employment does not exist, there is no record of her working, and no visible record of her liability to pay income taxes.
She has no protection for work related injuries as required by law, and in the event of unemployment she has no record of earnings on which benefits may be calculated.
The short story is that Maria is paying for little or nothing, and has dragged her employer into her illegal non-employment as a bonus. Replicating this story, with millions of variations, identifies the huge underground employment which pays for little or nothing. Maria is clearly not paying her fair share, the employer is not paying for his complicity in the same scheme, and there is little to no revenue being generated by any of the governments to provide the support she requires.
America’s illegal residents come in all varieties. Believing that few pay their fair share, like Maria, a comprehensive solution through legislation is needed to bring all illegal folks out of the shadows, and expect that they will pay their way, as the rest of us do. If there are not enough smart folks in DC to write and vote on this legislation, they should be sent home.
Obama’s current solution offering work permits for illegal young folks is clearly a scheme to get illegal votes for his next election. Hello! is there any doubt? Giving an illegal young adult a work permit after five years of residence should follow only if the parents can document paying their full fair share of income tax, social security, and other forms of economic support to the US, state and local coffers. Let the former children’s work permits be documented through the parents’ economic support of the country, if they are proud Americans. It’s the right thing to do!
The only perfect solution is to replace Obama and all his czars and anarchists with patriots who will put America first.