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Suggestion for federal hiring rules

August 12, 2007

Regarding the Department of Homeland Security's plan to impose fines on companies that don't fire employees who have invalid Social Security numbers ("Rules on illegal workers stir fears," Aug. 4):

Republicans should be against the plan because it tells companies how to run their businesses.

Democrats should be against it because it is likely to lead to inadvertent firing of legal workers.

We live in a country built on free enterprise. Let the profit motive do the job of immigration enforcement instead of the courts and the police: Change the Tax Code to prohibit a company from taking a deduction for an employee's wages if the employee's Social Security number is invalid or misappropriated.

Undoubtedly, employers would quickly adopt procedures to avoid having to pay salaries out of post-tax profits unless they judged that the economic reward was worth the risk.

The results would be: lower wages for known undocumented immigrants because their salaries would have to be paid from precious post-tax profits, better-paying job opportunities for those legally allowed to work in the country and higher tax payments (compensating society at large) from companies that still employed undocumented workers.

Michael Ernstoff

Los Angeles

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