Thursday, August 16, 2007

Illegal Immigrants are People Too

I know I am asking for trouble with a title like that, but I think it’s important to remind people of that very simple, but incredibly important fact. What has me thinking about this you ask? Well I was at a meeting of executives yesterday discussing business issues and it came up that one of the executives had recently let go of a good employee because it was discovered that she was in this country illegally. He let her go on a loophole, citing the reason as lying on her I-9 and skipped the whole illegal issue. As an HR professional I agree this was the way to go, unless a way to sponsor her to be in this company was an option.

Now that it is a done deal, he finds that she is working for someone he knows and feels an ethical responsibility to let them know her status or tip them off that they should run her social security number and find it out for themselves. This really hit a hot button for me, and I didn’t really realize it was there. I mean I listen to the news and here all the fuss about illegal immigrants but haven’t really defined where I stand on it.

Hearing about this woman helped me define it bit more clearly. In this situation, she is a good employee, holding down a job, paying her taxes etc. So do I want her to lose her job because she is here illegally? No. Do I like that she has lied to her employer? No. But I realize she no choice to lie. I would rather her lie and hold down a regular job than turn to crime or some other unsavory method of supporting herself.

Also, FYI, a former employer should never call the new employer and “alert” them to an issue with the employee. And yes, I do have exceptions to that rule like say they embezzled form my company or something to that effect. And just so you know you could get sued for that, but the ethical reason to do it out weighs the liability. In this case the business is no danger of not knowing her true status, they are doing nothing wrong I hiring as they believe her documents are legit and she is not hurting them. The worst thing that could happen is they find out and fire her.

Do I support all illegal immigrants? No. I don’t want anyone here illegally that supports themselves as criminals, or commit other crimes such as murder or rape. I also don’t want the ones here that buy homes in my neighborhood and fill it with 10 adults under the same roof, or the ones in the mall who have no sense of decorum. I don’t want our community to be brought down to a different level. But the folks who have been here in this county holding down jobs, paying taxes conducting themselves as good citizens in our community, who have families here, I support some way of allowing them to stay.

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