THEY CANNOT WORK, THEY WILL NOT COME:
AND MANY WILL RETURN TO THEIR HOMELANDS
All immigrant families must find work in their new
If official registration is required in order to gain employment,
all prospective immigrants will consider their chances
of getting proper registration and authorization to work.
Does the United States need new systems of
How have millions of
foreign workers slipped thru the cracks?
As universal registration of all authorized workers
becomes more complete,
many foreign nationals will return voluntarily to their homelands,
where their citizenship will always allow them to seek employment.
MOST UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS JOIN THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY.
2. ENFORCING WAGE AND LABOR LAWS.
FAKE PAPERS TO OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT.
COMPUTER FILES CAN BE MORE SECURE.
AUTHORIZED WORKERS DATABASE.
NO REGISTRATION, NO WORK.
CONCLUSION: BETTER REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN WORKERS
MIGHT BE THE BEST STEP TOWARD IMMIGRATION
THEY CANNOT WORK, THEY WILL NOT COME:
MANY WILL RETURN TO THEIR HOMELANDS
James Leonard Park
Why do thousands of people each week stream into the
United States from other countries?
They come to reunite with those parts of their families already living
in the USA.
come because other members of their families have invited them to
come in a hope of a better life than would have been possible
They come because people-smugglers have told them
of the wonderful opportunities available to them in the USA.
And they have already paid thousands of dollars to the people-smugglers
because they trust the smugglers to get them settled in the
But this is the most fundamental fact about
All of the millions of people who have come to the New World
have emigrated because they believed
that they would have a better
life in the United States or Canada.
These countries of North America are the land of opportunity
for people who saw less hope for their lives in their homelands.
The most basic fact about this hope for a better life
is that the new immigrants will find employment in the USA or
Those who are too young and too old to join the work-force
can still hope for a better life because of the possibilities for
(which will prepare them for employment later)
or because they know that the income-support systems
of their adopted country will keep them alive.
1. MOST UNAUTHORIZED
JOIN THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY.
Every year both the United States and Canada admit
thousands of immigrants
thru their normal methods
of selecting and registering newcomers.
They are officially registered and each country keeps track of these
until they can become naturalized citizens some years later.
But the numbers of immigrants who enter without authorization
is larger than the numbers who are granted official permission
to emigrate to either the USA or Canada.
Under present laws in both Canada and the USA,
these citizens of other countries who have entered without permission
have no legal authorization
Thus they are forced into the underground economy of
their adopted country.
They will work 'off the books'.
This means that there will be no official record that they were ever
They will be paid in cash, which means that they have no proof
if they are not paid as much as they had agreed to in advance.
They might have to work in unsafe and unsanitary conditions
because the underground economy is not subject to health and safety
which applies to all legitimate forms of employment.
In the underground economy, they are subject to
that can be changed at any time by the employer.
They have no legal protection from any kinds of discrimination
or exploitation on the job.
Read more about the 'informal sector':
Bring All Economic Activity into the Open
2. ENFORCING WAGE AND LABOR
and groups operating without
registration, taxation, or compliance with
constitute about 10% of the economy of the United States of America.
Many other countries have an even larger percentage of their economic
The underground economy operates without licensing
by any government body.
The employers pay no insurance of any kind:
no workers' compensation insurance,
no unemployment insurance,
no disability insurance,
no liability insurance, etc.
They offer no fringe benefits such as paid vacations or family leave.
They do not comply with local, state, or federal health or safety
They do not withhold or pay any local, state, or federal taxes.
They might not pay the minimum wage.
They sometimes employ children,
who would not be permitted to work under most labor laws.
They pay in cash and keep no records.
And they do not ask about the immigration status of any workers.
Better enforcement of all laws related to employment
would bring at least some
of this underground economy out
And foreign nationals now exploited by sweatshops
would see their working conditions improve remarkably.
Sometimes unscrupulous employers classify their
workers as "independent contractors"
in order to avoid the various costs and labor requirements under law.
But if these workers are really being directed by the employer
and being paid by the hour, for example,
then they are legally employees.
And they should be covered by all laws concerning wages and work-place.
All honest taxpayers would benefit by better
because the estimated $1 trillion in the underground economy
would finally be taxed.
Some economists estimate that more complete taxation
might even eliminate the present federal deficit.
If it is correct that 10% of the U.S. economy is
then it could not be attributed entirely to foreign nationals working
'off the books',
since unregistered foreign nationals make up only about 4% of the U.S.
Thus efforts to bring all
employment up to standard
would not be seen as enforcing immigration laws.
Different agencies would be involved
(IRS, Labor Department, state attorneys general, local police).
Everyone living in the USA
will benefit when labor laws are enforced.
The underground economy could be sub-divided
into legal and illegal ways of making
Lawful activities often not registered, taxed, etc. include:
child-care at home;
restaurant, food-service, food-processing, meat-packing;
landscape and lawn-care;
construction, remodeling, roofing;
hotel, retail, & office services and cleaning, other janitorial
All such lawful endeavors taking place 'off the
should be reported to the most appropriate local or state office
responsible for enforcing wage and labor laws.
Federal offices such as the Internal Revenue Service
will also be involved in reforming the black market.
Simple observation of all workplaces
will discover some elements of the unregistered and unlicensed economy.
This should lead to enforcement of wage and labor laws for everyone.
Often people employed in the legitimate parts of the same industries
know where their underground
competitors are operating.
The unregistered and untaxed parts of the economy are unfair
for workers and employers who comply with all applicable laws.
Perhaps rewards should be paid to people who report
and other parts of the underground economy.
Another simple way to find underground industries
is to follow the electricity:
Wherever large amounts of electricity are being used,
there should be some registered industry.
Sweatshops are paying the
even if they are not paying the Internal Revenue Service.
parts of the underground economy
will be harder to discover and regulate:
drug-smuggling and money-laundering;
When such illegal activities are discovered,
they should be reported to local law-enforcement.
Whenever unregistered foreign nationals are
thru any efforts to enforce wage laws and labor laws,
the workers should NOT be dismissed from that employment.
Such dismissal would only mean that they would seek other jobs,
perhaps even deeper
in the underground economy.
Rather, a national system should be established for registering all
whenever they are discovered by any level of government.
Instead of sending them back to their homelands
(from which they would immediately try to return to the United States),
they should all be officially
registered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
including all family members who can be discovered.
The work-places will be brought into compliance with
all relevant laws.
And all of the workers will be registered and photographed.
But if the product or service is otherwise a legal business,
the employees should be permitted to continue working.
Later, decisions will have to be made about
which foreign nationals will be permitted to remain in the USA.
Some of these will be offered pathways to earning American
And other will be repatriated to their countries of citizenship,
where they always have a right to seek employment.
Those discovered engaging in criminal activities
will be taken into custody and handled within the criminal-justice
Some of these will be tried, convicted,
& sentenced to serve terms
of imprisonment in the USA.
Others will be returned to their countries of origin,
if those countries are willing and able
to deal appropriately with their criminal behavior.
For clarity of thinking, it will be useful to
(such as overstaying a visa,
using false documents, working without authorization, etc.)
from violations of law that
apply to everyone within the USA.
Gun-running and drug-dealing are criminal offenses no matter who does
But gathering at an informal day-labor site looking
for legitimate work
is not as serious a
violation of law.
Short-term contracts to provide legitimate services
can (and should) be brought within all applicable laws.
3. FAKE PAPERS TO OBTAIN
Sometimes the kinds of work foreign nationals
are somewhat above board:
They might have income taxes withheld by the employer.
And they might be paying into the Social Security system.
(But if they never become citizens of their new country,
they will never be permitted to collect Social Security benefits after
In order to work 'above ground',
they are required to have some papers or cards
that seem to give them official authorization to work in their new
In the United States, green
authorize foreign nationals to live and work in the USA.
But there are millions of fake green cards
No matter what security measures are added to green cards,
criminal enterprises can duplicate those
In the USA, all workers are supposed to have Social
But these cards and numbers are also easy to obtain thru criminal
Social Security Numbers can be created out of thin air.
Or the identities of real citizens can be stolen.
All past systems of work-authorization had major
tried to build from the state registrations
for drivers' licenses.
But foreign nationals found ways to get around
the state systems for issuing drivers' licenses and/or other state IDs.
was supposed to check Social Security Numbers of applicants
against the database run by the Social Security Administration.
But criminals found ways to steal valid Social Security Numbers,
so all such checking was worthless.
How many unauthorized workers have evaded the E-Verify system?
4. COMPUTER FILES CAN BE
What is needed in all countries that register their
citizens and visitors
is a fool-proof, very secure
computer file for each man, woman, &
This would replace all paper or plastic documents
that have been used in the past.
Instead of presenting something that the applicants can carry with them,
the persons applying for jobs will provide their names and numbers
so that their identities can be verified by looking at their computer
The top item in each computer File will be a recent
picture of the person.
The personnel officer will carefully compare the picture with the face
of the applicant.
If there is no match, there will be no job.
And if there is any uncertainty of identity,
other facts about the real person will be contained in the Identity
which can be checked against the facts provided by the applicant.
Such a change to National Identity Files
from various forms of paper and plastic identification
will present new problems.
For example, some people will attempt to create false identities in the
But because the computer system itself
will keep information about how
each File was created,
it will be possible to uncover and correct false data.
And the persons who inserted the false information
can be fired
and put into prison.
The National Identity File for each authorized worker
will begin with a picture of that person.
Name and address will also identify this person.
Old forms of identity fraud have included stealing names and numbers.
But it is much more difficult to steal the identity of someone
when his or her picture
is the first item in the National Identity File.
Not only will the impostor have to look like the real person,
but they will both have to live at the same address.
And no one person can be in two places at the same time.
Simple cross-checking will discover fake work-authorizations.
If we doubt the security of electronic information,
we need only to remember the credit-card systems now working:
Every day millions of dollars are transferred,
mostly without mistakes or theft.
A national identity system using computer files could be even more
More details about
creating and operating
a new National Identity Bureau for the USA will be found here:
5. AUTHORIZED WORKERS
Short of creating a complete listing for all
citizens and visitors,
it would be possible for the USA or Canada to create
a computerized database for
all persons authorized to work.
This would be created in the same format needed for the National
but it would not immediately attempt to list everyone in the country.
Rather, it would be a computer record of all persons
authorized to work in that country.
This computer record would also start with a current picture of the
And other necessary data would be included in the same computer file
for that person.
Then employment officers would consult the database
of all persons authorized to work in that country
whenever someone new applies for a job.
And as the system becomes more complete,
employers should be required to check all current employees
against the national work-authorization database.
Such checking and cross-checking will identify some
workers and applicants
who are not authorized to
work in the USA or Canada.
Depending on other decisions in each country about
it would be possible for settled immigrants not previously registered
to register at the time when their unauthorized employment was
Such registration might grant them at least temporary permission
to continue working in their current positions
or to change to other employment.
They would be registered
even tho they have not yet been given
full permission to
remain in the country indefinitely.
Bringing previously-unauthorized workers out of the
will improve their work-status
as well as provide more information upon which to base
future decisions about immigration reform.
6. NO REGISTRATION, NO
Once this new policy is well established,
all prospective immigrants to any country that has this policy
will think twice about emigrating:
They will know in advance that registration is required in order
to obtain employment.
And if they know that registration will eventually
in them being returned to their homelands,
they will decide to stay home,
where they do definitely have a right to
rather than risk trying to get employment in a country that requires
In short, if
they know in advance that they will not be able to work,
they will not cross the
border without authorization.
And as the system of registration for permission to
work becomes more complete,
a certain number of people already
working without authorization to be in the country
will voluntarily return to their homelands,
where as citizens they will always have authorization to seek
After work-authorization is established in any
prospective immigrants will first seek official permission to enter the
before they take the risks of emigration without authorization.
And foreign nationals already settled in any country
will evaluate their chances of staying in that country after they are
Universal registration of all citizens and visitors
might be the ultimate goal of any National Identity Bureau.
And each year as the number of people officially registered increases,
the number of unregistered foreign nationals will decrease.
Immigration reform in each country will decide
exactly which persons
will be permitted to stay in that country.
Which of these will be offered pathways to
foreign nationals will be returned to their homelands.
Exactly who will be
permitted to stay and who
will go home
will depend on the new laws created to replace outdated immigration
More details about universal registration in the USA
will be found here:
"Register All Foreign Nationals:
Carrots and Sticks":
"Registration without Deportation:
Bringing Millions of Foreign Nationals out of the Shadows":
7. CONCLUSION: BETTER
REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN WORKERS
MIGHT BE THE BEST STEP TOWARD
Because it is necessary for every individual to make
a living somehow,
every person who considers emigrating to another country
will necessarily ask: "How will I make a living there?"
And if the prospective new country has good systems of
work-authorization in place,
the would-be immigrant will seek
permission before moving.
People-smugglers will no longer be able to sell their criminal services
with the false promise that the client will be able to work in the new
The actual experience of millions of unauthorized
being returned to their
will be dramatic proof to all others thinking of emigrating
that the underground methods
do not work.
And as improved work-authorization systems come into
millions of previously-unregistered workers will
have Identity Files created for them.
Some of these will be permitted to stay in their adopted countries.
New pathways to citizenship will
be opened for them.
But others will be returned to their homelands.
Only the actual creation and implementation of new
will show how significant such changes will be.
If immigrants cannot work, will they stop coming?
If workers already settled without authorization
are required to register themselves and their families,
how many of these foreign nationals will return to their homelands?
March 26, 2011; Revised 4-3-2011; 4-5-2011; 5-12-2011; 10-1-2011;
4-19-2012; 6-28-2012; 9-22-2012; 1-16-2013
James Park is himself an immigrant to the United
He was a child when his whole family was admitted to the USA.
So there was no way to know ahead of time what he might contribute.
But each family member has proven to be good for America.
Much more about him
be found on his
which now has more than 1,000 'rooms'.
Some of these rooms contain other essays about
here listed in the order of their relevance to work-authorization:
Bring All Economic Activity into the Open
Carrots and Sticks
Millions of Foreign Nationals out of the Shadows .
Foreign Nationals in the USA:
How Many Will Stay?
New Pathways to Citizenship .
Be Above Average .
I am an
A Range of Options .
Repatriation of Citizens of other Countries and their Families
Background information in
Permanent residence (United