News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 Cartoons/Comics/Humor
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  America
Prof. Maceri's special column
Rights for Illegal immigrants?
Special Contribution
By Domenico Maceri
Illegal immigrants in the US

Rafael Ruiz may have broken immigration laws because he used fake documents to get a job in the US. In spite of his questionable immigration status, he qualified for workers' compensation, according to a ruling of a three-judge panel in California.

The ruling applies to all unauthorized immigrants who get hurt at the job site.

The unanimous decision gave hope to the more than 2.6 million undocumented workers in California and several other million in other states.

In essence, the judges said that unauthorized immigrants don't lose some basic rights because of the fact that they don't have legal papers.
Ruiz was working for Farmer Bros. Co. when he hurt his shoulders, back, neck, and hands. The company argued unsuccessfully that Ruiz's illegal status did not entitle him to compensation.

The California ruling is not very different from others which have occurred in several states. The message of these rulings is that once companies hire workers, employees have rights regardless of legal immigration status.

It was a victory not just for Ruiz but for all undocumented workers and every American worker in general. Had the judges gone against Ruiz, there would have been more incentives to hire undocumented workers, particularly in dangerous jobs, since if workers get hurt, you just deport them without paying them.

Being unable to work is tough enough. Receiving workers' compensation makes life at least acceptable in spite of the physical and emotional pain endured by injured workers.

The ruling was also beneficial for all workers because it serves as protection for minimum wage laws.

Although companies sometimes hire undocumented workers and pay them less than the minimum wage, the ruling suggests that if workers sue, they'll be protected.

To be sure, there are still plenty of incentives to hire undocumented workers because they represent an eager and docile workforce. Without legal papers, workers are in a very vulnerable position in their relationship with their employers.

Undocumented workers' insecurity is reflected by the cloud of deportation which constantly hovers over them.

Given the difficulty of entering the US, deportation would mean another $2,000.00 to a smuggler to get back in the country. Thus, having made it to the US, strong incentives to avoid deportation make complaints unlikely.

This vulnerability makes undocumented workers reluctant to make use of the legal system. When it happens, it's always a measure of last resort.
Thus it's not unusual for undocumented workers to be mistreated and sometimes not paid at all for work they have done.

It happened recently in the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans. KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, had hired undocumented workers but did not pay them. A group of undocumented workers filed a complaint with the Department of Labor requesting $56,000 in back pay.

Wal-Mart is another major company which has been involved in hiring undocumented workers and underpaying them. Two years ago, 245 unauthorized immigrants doing cleaning work at 60 Wal-Mart stores were arrested. They were working for Wal-Mart subcontractors and some were being paid as little as two dollars a day.

In 2004 Wal-Mart officials agreed to pay $11 million to settle accusation that the company had employed undocumented workers. Wal-Mart agreed to make sure that only workers with legal papers would be hired in the future.

In spite of that, in November of 2005 federal officials arrested 125 undocumented workers at a construction site for a new Wal-Mart distribution center outside Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. All 125 workers were deported.

Inevitably, some of these deported workers will try again to return. Once back in the US, they'll get jobs and some of them might get hurt, like Rafael Ruiz, doing dangerous work.

The message from the three-judge panel in California is important not just for companies which continue to hire undocumented workers. It's also important for the workers themselves. In the US, if you work and get hurt, companies owe you something whether you have legal papers or not.



Related Articles
    Trump's Tiny Heart and DACA's Repeal
    Yesterday's Immigrants: Better Than Today's?
    Trump's Alternative Reality on Immigration: a ...
    Kaine's Español: Not Just Empty ...
    Immigration: The Supreme Court Hands GOP a ...
    Trump's Tax Returns: Our Business?
    Trump's Wall is Full of Holes
    Angry Latino Voters Will Deny Trump the ...
    Bilingualism and US Presidents
    Cruz: A "Canadian" for the US Presidency?
    Spanish in the US: Just an Immigrant Language?
    US Border Enforcement Bil Too Tough, Unwise
    Freedom of Speech in English Only?
    The GOP: No Guest Worker Program?
    Tancredo: the Ugly Face of the GOP?
    Healthcare for All?
    No English, No Service?
    When Language Knowledge Means Security
    Enough Undocumented Workers?
    Bilingual Principals?
    Domestic Workers: Family Members?
    Mexico in US
    Tongue-Tied Bush?
    Is Immigration a Local Affair?
    Voting Rights in Español
    Profiting from Illegal Immigration?
    Job Safety for All?
    When English Only Discriminates
    Border Control with Songs?
    Guilty Parents, Innocent Children?
    Only One Language for America?
    George Bush: Already Lame Duck?
    A Comprehensive Immigration Bill That Works
    Language as Integration
    Driving in English Only?
    Illegal Workers Saving Social Security?
    Learning Languages the Easy Way?
    English-Only Laws: Why?
    Arnold Schwarzenegger: Pete Wilson II?
    Language Fluency Means Security
    Stingy Government But Generous People

Other Articles by Domenico Maceri
    Trump's Tiny Heart and DACA's Repeal
    Yesterday's Immigrants: Better Than Today's?
    Trump's Alternative Reality on Immigration: ...
    Kaine's Español: Not Just Empty ...
    Immigration: The Supreme Court Hands GOP a ...


Domenico Maceri, Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. His articles have appeared in many newspapers including Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Japan Times, and The Seoul Times. Some of his stories won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange