The escalating debate over illegal immigration focuses primarily on those who sneak across the border, not on the jobs that lure them here or the people who hire them, reports the Los Angeles Times. When authorities do crack down on employers, it often is to stem terrorism, human smuggling or large-scale criminal operations. In fact, the owners of hotels, farms, restaurants and retail stores who hire illegal workers – never widely sanctioned to begin with – now face a negligible risk of being penalized.
From 1993 to 2003, the number of arrests at work sites nationwide went from 7,630 to 445. The number of fines dropped from 944 in 1993 to 124 in 2003. About 7 million illegal immigrants worked in the U.S. last year, said the Pew Hispanic Center, a research organization. “I don’t think any average restaurant owner or farmer is shaking in their boots,” said Carl Shusterman, a Los Angeles immigration attorney.