Wage theft: an incentive for hiring illegals?

According to Construction Citizen, a survey was conducted last year of over 4,000 low-wage workers, including illegal immigrants, for the purpose of studying labor violations among low-wage workers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The "findings are revealing in that they clearly point out the magnitude of minimum wage and overtime violations in the major cities of the country." The report, a joint effort of three groups, used a methodology specifically designed to reach and include "unauthorized workers" and workers who are paid in cash.   These undocumented workers are often missed in standard surveys.

Unscrupulous companies who find, hire and fail to classify illegal immigrant workers are often engaging in a form of wage theft. Wage theft, including no payment for overtime work, misclassification of workers as independent contractors, using underage children, and paying in cash, creates a disincentive for US Citizens to apply for jobs in those industries. At the same time, this practice creates an incentive for illegals to come to the United States for work.

By reducing or preventing occurrences of wage theft, reporting labor violations and reforming the immigration laws, these jobs will become more attractive to American workers. With American workers filling jobs that were formerly thought of as "low wage" and unattractive, the incentives for illegals to sneak into the country, in Violation of U.S. Civil Law, will be reduced. Labor shortages may then be filled via a reformed immigration system that allows an adequate number of foreign workers to live and work in the United States legally.

Legislative solutions to these issues are forthcoming, according to the blog. While the report found widespread wage theft issues in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Construction Citizen poses the question "what does that mean for Houston, Dallas/Forth Worth, Atlanta, San Antonio, Phoenix and Miami?"

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