June 27, 2006
For years, employers in California have known that they could hire illegal aliens without having to worry very much about being prosecuted for breaking the law. Soon they may have something else to worry about: their competitors. Under a provision of California law, a company that knowingly employs illegal aliens can be sued by competitors who have suffered economic damage as a result of that practice.
Dozens of scofflaw employers may soon find themselves in court as defendants. David Klehm, an Orange County attorney and founder of the IllegalEmployers.org website, together with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law center affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), are planning to file suit against companies that knowingly hire illegal aliens. The suits, some to be filed as early as this summer, will seek restitution, damages and market protections on behalf of law-abiding small and medium-sized business owners.
“Honest business owners and hard-working Americans are the forgotten victims of unenforced laws against illegal immigration,” said Klehm. “Since setting up IllegalEmployers.org I have received numerous requests for assistance from law-abiding employers who are struggling to stay in business because they face unfair competition from other companies who hire illegal aliens at lower wages, without benefits, and who often get away without contributing to the worker’s compensation fund. The employers we represent are not asking for any special breaks; they just want to be able to compete for business on a level playing field.” The Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement (FIRE) group, creator of the WeHireAliens.com website, has also played a crucial role in identifying scofflaw employers.
“Our alliance seeks companies that have lost business as the result of the illegal hiring practices of their competitors,” explained Mike Hethmon, general counsel for IRLI. “We are working with David Klehm because we believe that removing the economic incentives to hire illegal aliens is a key to solving this national crisis. We see this alliance as a model for cooperation between citizens concerned about illegal immigration and the majority of American businesses that are concerned about the effects of illegal immigration on the U.S. economy.”
IRLI, which was founded as a legal advocacy group dedicated to representing the interests of American citizens in immigration law, has helped employers and legal workers recover damages using federal RICO statutes. “Even though the federal government is refusing to protect honest employers by enforcing laws against hiring illegal aliens, California law provides those employers a mechanism to defend themselves. This is the first time these state laws have been used to fight the effects of illegal immigration, but it won’t be the last,” noted Hethmon.
According to Klehm, honest California businesses have lost billions of dollars over the years as a result of being undercut by competitors that employ illegal aliens. Under the law, they are entitled to compensation. “For some of our clients, their only choice is to file a lawsuit or file bankruptcy papers,” said Klehm. “It is a choice that unfortunately been forced on them by the government’s failure to enforce explicit laws against hiring illegal aliens. People who obey the law should not be forced into bankruptcy by those who don’t.”
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