PLATFORM : Employers Squeezed

<i> JOSIE GONZALEZ, who practices immigration law, is concerned about the impact of the 1986 Immigration Act on small businesses</i>

She told The Times:

Immigration (officials in the West) seem to have focused the majority of their enforcement efforts against small business owners, who have much more difficulty fulfilling a multitude of paperwork requirements. They’ve focused a lot on particular industries on the restaurant industry, for example. They’ve focused on ethnic-sounding restaurants. Many fines have been levied not for knowingly hiring unauthorized aliens, but for not filling out the (I-9) forms correctly.

An employer, in filling out these forms, really feels as if he’s got to make a judgment call as to whether or not the documents being presented are good or bad.

(Many employers hiring workers) choose the one that doesn’t look foreign, that doesn’t have an accent, because you think that this is a safe person to hire, and that person’s document may be OK. It’s resulted in discrimination, and it’s not fair. But it’s also not fair to the employer, who’s being placed in the position of having to make a judgment call with high stakes involved if the decision is wrong.