An explosive new report from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) slams the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill as an amnesty bill–for corporations.
GAI, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization, has found a so-called corporate “Get Out of Jail Free” card in the Senate’s immigration bill that would allow companies to dodge millions of dollars in fines and prosecution of executives for hiring or having hired illegal immigrants.
Here is how the bill would give “corporate amnesty” to employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Under the Senate bill, illegal immigrants currently in the United States may apply for “provisional status” by providing documentation, which includes employment records, that shows they have been in the country since December of 2011, per Section 2101 of the bill.
Since the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1986 requires employers to “verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals hired in the United States after November 6, 1986,” many of the employment records may subject current employers to fines and prosecutions.
Section 2104 of the bill, though, gives such corporations amnesty by prohibiting them from being fined or prosecuted based on what could have otherwise been incriminating employment records. Here is the text of the relevant provision in Section 2104:
(1) USE OF EMPLOYMENT RECORDS.– “Copies of employment records or other evidence of employment provided by an alien or by an alien’s employer in support of an alien’s application for registered provisional immigrant status under section 245B may not be used in a civil or criminal prosecution or investigation of that employer under section 274A or the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for the prior unlawful employment of that alien regardless of the adjudication of such application or reconsideration by the Secretary of such alien’s prima facie eligibility determination. Employers that provide unauthorized aliens with copies of employment records or other evidence of employment pursuant to an application for registered provisional immigrant status shall not be subject to civil and criminal liability pursuant to section 274A for employing such unauthorized aliens.”
As GAI notes, under Section 274a.10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants can be subject to “criminal fines up to $3,000 per employee and imprisonment up to six months. In addition to the criminal penalties, employers may be subject to civil fines as high as $16,000 per employee.” And in recent years, “worksite enforcement” audits by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “have skyrocketed from 250 in 2007 to over 3,000 in 2012” while, during the same period, “civil fines administered by for unlawful employment increased from $26,560 to $10,463,988,” according to the report.
In addition, “criminal fines and forfeitures for worksite enforcement went from $31,426,443 in 2007 to $36,611,320 in 2010” and there has also been an increase in the number of managerial employees who have been arrested for hiring illegal immigrants.
“Given the substantial rewards and protections that companies hiring illegal aliens stand to gain from the Senate bill’s passage, it is not surprising that numerous employers and corporations have aggressively supported the bill’s passage,” the GAI report concludes. “These provisions raise serious questions about whether employers who have accrued unduly earned competitive advantage by breaking the law should be held legally accountable, rather than be provided with a corporate amnesty regime that inoculates them from fines, penalties, legal fees, and prosecution.”