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A Weak Case on Behalf of Illegal Workers

January 16, 1994

* Wednesday's Orange County section had a couple of pieces dealing with illegal immigration. They had to do with (Assemblyman) Tom Umberg's recently proposed legislation, AB 2404, to penalize employers who hire undocumented workers.

What really irritates me are some of the spurious arguments foisted on us by the employers and immigrants-rights groups.

The agriculture industry raises the specter of discrimination against workers here legally solely based on appearance. Hogwash!

First of all, the vast majority of workers refused employment based on physical appearance and language skills only would be illegals.

Second, the minute percentage of documented workers discriminated against wouldn't be afraid to complain to authorities. These same employers would be unlikely to hire them because they would demand a legal wage.

Third, the unscrupulous employers who regularly hire undocumented workers do so for at least a couple of reasons. The illegals will work for next to nothing, and they will tolerate abysmal working conditions and all the physical and verbal abuse that these low-rent employers care to dispense.

I have intimate experience with this situation. As a youngster, I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and worked in fields and saw how the illegals were treated. The documented workers were referred to as braceros at that time. Today, I work in an area of Los Angeles where a large number of illegals are employed.

So let's dispense with the smoke and mirrors.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service already knows who and where the offending employers are. The immigrants-rights groups are keenly aware that most of their arguments have no validity.

In California we have a history of kissing up to and caving in to the minorities. Let's get down to business and solve a problem that is eminently solvable.

LOUIS C. SHARP

Mission Viejo

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