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BECOMING Legal: A Guide to the New Immigration Law : Other Key Parts of the Law

May 04, 1987

Employer Sanctions

This section is considered to be the keystone of the law. It prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal aliens. The purpose is to eliminate the magnet--the jobs--that induces undocumented aliens to cross the border in great numbers. And the law imposes sanctions--fines and possible jail terms--on employers who violate its terms.

Before the immigration law went into effect, it was not illegal to hire workers lacking legal documents. However, since Nov. 6, 1986, when the law was signed, it has been illegal to hire persons who do not have immigration documents, even for household chores.

Those hired before the law went into effect may not be fired because of their illegal status. By the same token, employers will not be fined for having such workers on their payroll.

The law states that an employer must certify--under penalty of perjury--that he has verified the identity and work authorization of any new employee. To do so, the employer is required to examine certain documents.

Employees will be asked to sign--and employers to verify the legal status of new hires-- through Form I-9, the Form for Verification of Employment Eligibility. The Immigration and Naturalization Service requires that employers as well as the employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986, fill out Form I-9, under penalty of perjury.

The INS also suggests that an illegal alien, who at the time of asking for work states that he intends to apply for or has already applied for legalization, be allowed to work until Sept. 1, 1987. That statement, written by the employee, is to be included with Form I-9.

After Sept. 1, 1987, however, the employer as well as the employee have the obligation of reviewing Form I-9 and making pertinent corrections.

The INS says that the employer must, during the first three days of hiring, physically inspect the identity documents and the permit for work in the United States of all job applicants. If employment lasts less than three days, document verification must be carried out prior to the end of the first workday.

Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens expose themselves to warnings for first offenses and to civil and criminal penalties.

Employer sanctions go into full effect starting June 1, 1987. In the case of agricultural workers and Cubans and Haitians (who are covered by a special section of the law), sanctions do not become effective until Sept. 1, 1987.

Identity and Work Permit

The INS suggests that any of the following documents, among others, may establish identity and employment authorization:

U.S. passport

Certificate of U. S. citizenship

Naturalization certificate

Current foreign passport with work permit

Green card

Temporary residency card, I-688, with photograph

Work permit, I-688A, with photograph

The regulations suggest that the following documents may be used to establish identity:

Driver's license

A card, with photograph, issued by the state

The regulations suggest the following documents as proof for the work permit only:

Social Security card

Birth certificate issued by the U.S. Department of State

Original or certified copy of U.S. birth certificate

Farm Workers

The immigration law will grant temporary residency to those who can show that they have worked in agriculture for a minimum of 90 days during the last three years, and for a minimum of 90 days between May 1, 1985, and May 1, 1986.

The INS regulations divide farm workers into two groups:

GROUP 1.--Farm workers who have resided in the country for an accumulated period of six months in each of the years ending on May 1, 1984, 1985, and 1986.

GROUP 2.--Persons who worked in agriculture for a minimum of 90 days and who resided in the United States for three months between May 1, 1985, and May 1, 1986.

U.S. consulates, to be designated by the Department of State, will accept and process applications for legalizations from abroad.

The period for the filing of applications for the farm workers' legalization program will begin June 1, 1987, and end on Nov. 30, 1988.

The form that farm workers need to complete is I-700. It is to be filed along with proof of employment in farm work and residency in the United States, the results of a medical examination, fingerprints, two color photographs and a fee of $185 per individual. Payment must be made by money order or cashier's check.

No more than 350,000 temporary residency visas will be granted to GROUP 1 workers, while there are no limitations on those in GROUP 2. The INS proposes that should more than 350,000 applications be received in GROUP 1, the remainder be classified as belonging to GROUP 2.

As those legalized will not be required to continue working in the fields, the law creates a mechanism for the "replenishment" of agricultural labor should a shortage arise.

As of 1990, if the Labor and Agriculture departments determine that there is a shortage of domestic farm labor, the importation of foreign workers will be allowed, and the workers will be accepted as temporary residents. These workers must work in agriculture for at least 90 days each year for three years in order to qualify for permanent residency.

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