Is hireing illegals is illegal? A case goes to Supreme Court
The following news is very interesting and I hope will again bring back a debate on illegal immigration and how the court view hireing them.
April 26, 2006 — The debate on illegal immigration, which has been raging across the country, comes to the Supreme Court today.
The court will hear a case in which one of the nation's largest carpet manufacturers, Mohawk Industries, is accused of conspiring to hire illegal immigrants to reduce labor costs.
In a novel legal argument, current and former workers of the company are seeking to file suit against their bosses under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, to prove the company illegally conspired with an outside employment agency to hire undocumented workers to keep legal workers' wages low.
The use of RICO, normally associated with organized crime and gangs, alarms the business community, because the act allows triple damages against companies in violation.
Before the case can go forward, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the workers can file the suit under RICO. If the workers prevail, discovery pertaining to the underlying allegations will commence in the lower courts.
Bad for Business or Workers? Mohawk, based in Calhoun, Ga., denies that it sought to hire illegal immigrants, and the company argues that an attempt to use RICO for such a case is an attack on ordinary business relationships.
"If the court allows this to proceed, then any ordinary dispute becomes a RICO case," said Mohawk attorney Juan Morillo.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed a brief siding with Mohawk, arguing that a loss will threaten legitimate businesses that cannot risk "the reputational injury of being sued in federal court under a statute associated with racketeers and mobsters."
Morillo adds that large corporations are put in a delicate position regarding illegal immigrants.
"On the one hand a corporation can be sued for allegedly hiring illegal aliens and then simultaneously they can be investigated for discrimination for being too vigorous in their scrutiny of a worker's documents," he said.
Howard Foster, an attorney for the workers, says that the case will allow private citizens to sue corporations in order to enforce immigration laws.
Advocates for immigration change support the workers' case against Mohawk.
"It's sad that citizens are being forced to go to these lengths to force their own government to protect their jobs from unscrupulous employers who knowingly hire people who are in the United States illegally," said Susan Wysoki, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "The government is ignoring massive violation of laws specifically intended to protect American workers. People are left with no other option but to sue under RICO."
The high court is expected to rule on the case by June.
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