A program to establish liaison between employees and employers, protect against unfair discrimination and ensure that employers are informed about the availability of legal workers under the new immigration law was announced Wednesday by federal officials.
"This is not an enforcement program, it's an education program," Harold Ezell, western regional commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told reporters during a news conference at a Los Angeles hotel. "There is a critical need for employer education (about the law). We're informing the public, particularly the employers, of what to do and what not to do."
Ezell distributed draft copies of a revised INS informational brochure for employers clarifying that the agency's policy is that all illegal aliens who declare to an employer that they expect to qualify for amnesty and intend to apply for it are authorized to work until Sept. 1.
Specifically, according to the brochure, employers who are thinking of hiring an illegal alien should ask the two following questions: "Do you claim to qualify for the legalization provisions of the new immigration law? Do you intend to apply for legal status and seek interim work authorization from INS?"
"If the alien's answers are in the affirmative, the alien is authorized to work, and you may hire the alien without fear of penalty until Sept. 1, 1987," the brochure states.
The amended brochure distributed by Ezell notes that the phrase "the alien is authorized to work" was added to the original draft text as part of a settlement in a federal court case in Sacramento.
Ezell said that INS officials will establish liaison between employer associations, labor organizations and others to permit implementation of the law "in the least burdensome way possible."
Under the fair employment practices phase, he said, INS officials will hear allegations of unfair, immigration-related discrimination, explain the anti-discrimination requirements of the law "and attempt to conciliate the matter in a neutral manner."
Under the LAW (lawfully authorized worker) phase, he said, employers will be put in touch with pools of legal workers who may be needed to replace those who do not obtain amnesty under the new law.
The new law permits aliens to apply for legal residence under a one-time amnesty provision if they can prove that they have been living in this country since before Jan. 1, 1982. It also authorizes fines and jail terms for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
Applications for amnesty will be accepted starting May 5, and employer sanctions will be enforced as of June 1.