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WaPo and NYT Must Reads

July 07, 2008 - Posted by Douglas Rivlin

Two must reads we’ve seen so far today:  One was today’s Washington Post Metro section front page look at law students aiding in immigration law clinics.  With so much deportation going on and with so many obstacles to legal immigration and staying legal, it’s all hands on deck. 

The second was the lead story in Sunday’s New York Times by Julia Preston on how the business community is starting to stir to put pressure on GOP lawmakers about immigration.  Employers trying to play by the rules are being tarred with the same brush as bottom-feeding employers who exploit the illegal status of workers.  Until we find ways of allowing for sufficient legal immigration, many small business owners are suffering.

The Post story looks at how much need there is for legal counsel in immigration-related matters.

But there is a growing realization, students and professors said, that policies on issues such as asylum and due process are evolving as never before, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A growing immigrant population also means that legal status often complicates what might have once been simple criminal or labor cases.

“It’s not just that people think immigration is important, but they’re seeing that it affects everything,” said Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration law professor who will join UCLA in the fall.  – Karin Brulliard, “Law Students Rush to Meet Needs In Booming Field of Immigration,” Washington Post, July 7, 2008

The Times story looks at how at the state and local level, businesses are uniting to keep up the pressure for immigration reform and beat back harmful initiatives aimed at immigrants – which are having a tremendous impact on the economy and business environment.

The offensive by businesses has been spurred by the federal enforcement crackdown, by inaction in Congress on immigration legislation and by a rush of punitive state measures last year that created a checkerboard of conflicting requirements. Many employers found themselves on the political defensive as they grappled, even in an economic downturn, with shortages of low-wage labor.

Mike Gilsdorf, the owner of a 37-year-old landscaping nursery in Littleton, Colo., saw the need for action by businesses last winter when he advertised with the Labor Department, as he does every year, for 40 seasonal workers at market-rate wages to plant, prune and carry his shrubs in the summer heat. Only one local worker responded to the notice, he said, and then did not show up for the job.

Mr. Gilsdorf was able to fill his labor force with legal immigrants from Mexico through a federal guest worker program. But that program has a tight annual cap, and Mr. Gilsdorf realized that he might not be so lucky next year. His business could fail, he said, and then even his American workers would lose their jobs.

“We’re not hiring illegals, we’re not paying under the table,” Mr. Gilsdorf said. “But if we don’t get in under the cap and nobody is answering our ads, we don’t have employees.” His group, Colorado Employers for Immigration Reform, is pressing Congress for a much larger and more flexible guest worker program. – Julia Preston, “Employers Fight Tough Measures on Immigration,” New York Times, July 6, 2008

Littleton, Colorado?  Isn’t that where anti-legal-immigration firebrand Rep. Tom Tancredo is from?  Boy, his agenda sure is helping the local folks!!!

For more information on what the business community is facing and how they are pushing back, visit ImmigrationWorksUSA.

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