April 20, 2005

Shakedown

The feds effectively shook down Wal-Mart this week, forcing the company to pay $11 million to avoid criminal charges for exchanging money for labor with evil Mexicans. A dozen businesses that contracted the janitorial services to Wal-Mart are paying $4 million in fines and are pleading guilty to criminal immigration charges.

God forbid illegal immigrants ever manage to find employment in this country, because then they might, you know, eat and stuff. I'm not thrilled with the increasingly gray market aspects of immigration and immigrant employment either, but I don't see how this fine furthers anyone's interests except the immigrant-haters and the government people who get prestige from it.

Even the Wal-Mart haters won't get anything more than a smirk from it, since this will only force Wal-Mart to limit future raises and benefits and to raise prices on consumers.

It sure doesn't help the gray-migrants who come here by the droves with the idea that they can find work, if not exactly on the up and up. They will now have to look harder to find work, even though they're willing to work difficult or unpleasant menial jobs.

And it doesn't help businesses ( and therefore it doesn't help consumers), who will now have to contend with a more aggressive Justice Department and will have to stiffen their compliance efforts on even contracted employees or risk being sued for the malfeasance of others. I mean, Wal-Mart is getting a huge fine because they OUGHT to have known, since the actual law-breaking was done by the contractors. Maybe Wal-Mart executives did know or have an idea, and maybe they probably should have put two and two together when they saw how low the contract bids were, but the fact is that this move will only force companies to pay more accountants and lawyers to cover their asses on immigration compliance.

It's raising the cost of doing business, if only marginally, and that negatively affects employees, consumers or both.

I realize that immigration is still often a crime, but maybe we ought to realize that it shouldn't be so heavily punished. It is interesting that the Justice Department will fine employers for letting those dirty migrant workers clean toilets and mop floors but the Homeland Security Department can't be bothered to stop them from coming in. After all, the argument against Wal-Mart is that they OUGHT to have known, but the Homeland Security Department DOES know many migrants are coming across the border and yet doesn't stop it. Maybe the government ought to sue itself.

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