Friday, May 27, 2011


All the U.S. Supreme Court did on May 26 was to nibble around the edges of our completely out-dated system to balance the need for workers with the supply for those workers.

The decision places greater burdens upon employers to verify the legal status of employees and applicants for jobs. Employer groups across the country have complained about these burdens on two counts: first, the Congress refuses to recognize the inability of employers to find workers for industries such as agriculture, restaurants, hotel and tourism among legal residents; and second, how difficult it is to function in a status verification process which is cumbersome, slow, and often wrong.

In the past, many Supreme Court decisions have contained express language urging Congress to enact legislative remedies in areas where a legislative void or confusion is present. Such a recommendation to Congress would have been far more helpful than permitting States to pass their own unequal and confusing laws on how to deal with the federal issue of immigration.

I fear that this decision will prompt many States to pass a variety of laws which are dissimilar, unclear, and burdensome to implement. Has not the Court invited a whole new barrage of cases testing the limits of this piece-meal approach?

Worse of all, the Court failed to understand the very difficult plight of immigrant workers who came to this country to meet the demand for employees from a vast number of industries. Virtually all of these workers are members of blended families--some members are legal residents, some are not. This Court decision seems to suggest that such undocumented workers will simply pack up and return to their countries of origin. Family members will not do that. The result will be more people in our country living unprotected in the shadows of society, and more employers finding ways around the burdensome regulations. Neither outcome serves our country well.

It is mystifying why the Court makes no reference to the 4,500,000 undocumented people in our country who came here on valid visas [mostly on commercial planes], but just never left after those visas expired. Why does the federal government refuse to implement a post-visa tracking system?

Congress has a moral duty to recognize the current outdated immigration system and to lead the nation in a civil discussion to deal with our employment imbalance, and to enact comprehensive immigration reform now--not promise to do so after the next election cycle.

By simply nibbling around the edges of our immigration mess, the Court has given the country a confusing policy of frayed edges--but no clear mandate to deal once and for all with our antiquated and unworkable immigration laws.

This decision offers President Obama and Congressional leaders the impetus to move immigration reform legislation forward now, rather than more years of these piece-meal legislative and judicial remedies.