A California grocery chain is under fire after they recently announced they would begin checking the immigration status of all of their new hires. Some people in this country do not possess a work visa and are attempting to make a positive contribution to the workforce as best they can. The new policy has outraged both the store’s customers and workers. Although the law prevents the company from checking the immigration status of their current employees, workers at the store feel that because they support the nation’s economy, the new policy is a betrayal.
The founder of the chain initially came to the country as undocumented worker, but has since become a legal resident. He has stated that he experienced the same treatment as other immigrants, but critics of the move have brushed aside his sentiments. Company officials were critical of the E-verify program, but stated that they were under ‘tremendous pressure’ to sign up for the voluntary program. Homeland Security recommended the chain sign up for E-verify, and it appears the company caved in to pressure from the government.
This most recent controversy highlights the current administration’s 2009 policy that stated a move from deporting any undocumented workers to punishing those companies that employ them. In the past year, immigration officials have leveled fines at employers close that total almost $20 million. Over a hundred company managers came under fire from government officials, and were eventually convicted of criminal immigration offenses.
Getting a work visa in California can be difficult, which forces many immigrants to work at low paying jobs. Now, without the benefit of a work visa, their options will be even more limited because this immigrant-friendly grocery store with 21 outlets has caved to pressure from immigration officials. The government has stated that the E-verify program is voluntary, although they encourage all employers to participate. Unfortunately, many immigrants in the area will likely be negatively affected by this change in employment policy. Workers who would like to obtain a valid work or employment visa should avail themselves of full knowledge of the process and requirements of doing so, which could drastically change their employment options on American soil.
Source: The Bulletin, “California grocer’s plan to use immigration checks stirs anger,” Lee Romney and Cindy Chang, Sept. 21, 2012