It may not be a widely known fact to South Carolina construction workers that, due to budget cuts, the average workplace gets a visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just once every 99 years. What effect that might have on workplace safety for immigrant workers on construction sites is anyone's guess.
A motley assortment of conservative leaders - ranging from tea party farmers to tech titans - joined together in Washington on Oct. 29 in a last-ditch effort to urge Congress to vote on immigration reform before congressional re-election campaigns take over their attention next year.
While the immigration debate has been recently "out of sight, out of mind," national and local business leaders, including big names such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have been working behind the scenes to revive the immigration policy discussion and get House Republicans to bring legislation to a vote. For months they've been recruiting local business leaders, especially those from Southern states, holding meetings and employing lobbyists in crafting a message to send to GOP lawmakers. Their purpose is to create unity among business operations and leaders and drive home the impact of the immigration legislation stalemate on industries such as manufacturing and farming, and its importance to local economies. To be sure attorneys are overseeing these legislative intricacies.
Border security has become the sticking point for members of Congress debating comprehensive immigration reform. However, a major issue being overlooked by lawmakers is the positive effect immigration reform could have on the economy and local business.
If you ask most immigrants, they will tell you that they came to this country for a better opportunity. Often times, pay is better here in the United States -- money that can be sent to family members in their home country. But as we’ve seen in past stories, some employers can take advantage of immigrant workers, often assuming that because they are relatively unskilled, they will not know when they aren’t being properly compensated for the work they do.
One of the biggest reasons why so many people are in support of immigration reform in the United States -- including a path to citizenship -- is because countless undocumtned immigrants are taken advantage of and treated unfairly each day throughout the country because of their illegal status.
Two South Carolina tobacco farms and an agricultural labor contractor were cited by the U.S. Department of Labor last week for unsafe housing, health and safety as well as wage violations. The employers, which grow tobacco in South Carolina for Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, now face more than $16,000 in fines for the violations.
Immigration reform is one of the hottest issues in the United States right now. Immigrant advocates say that immigration reform is not only needed to provide a path to legal residency for millions of undocumented immigrants, it's also needed to regulate the many businesses that take advantage of immigrant workers.
For entrepreneurs born outside of the United States, this country has historically served as the ideal location to start up a business. Motivated, intelligent and hard-working people have been coming to the U.S. to start up a business, create jobs and drive innovation for generations. However, for the first time in decades, immigrant entrepreneurship is on the decline.
In the past year or so, several states, including South Carolina, have intensified their immigration laws. The impact of this crackdown on undocumented workers is already beginning to show in various ways.