“Day Laborer Centers” are hiring sites supposedly created to deal with the problems caused by unskilled workers (largely illegal aliens) who congregate on street corners waiting for persons seeking laborers to drive by. In communities like Gaithersburg and Wheaton, these informal hiring sites have caused traffic disturbances, and the lack of sanitary facilities has often led to public urination. Other common complaints include public drunkenness and sexual harassment of female pedestrians
In response, local government and private groups (often including government-funded organizations like CASA de Maryland) have established formal hiring sites to get these workers off the streets. The stated goal is to establish an orderly process for the workers to match up with employers and to establish a record of the employer so that if there is a complaint of non-payment, there is a basis for investigation.
You might think, “What’s wrong with?” The answer is -- Many things!
The main reason that day labor hiring sites should not be tolerated is that they ignore the work status of the worker, thus facilitating illegal immigration. The center managers argue that it is the employer’s responsibility to verify the work eligibility of the employee hired. While this may be technically correct, if there is local government support for a hiring site, it is reasonable for a prospective employer to assume that the worker who is made available through the site is legally entitled to work. Thus, the hiring centers may not only facilitate the employment of unauthorized workers, they may also encourage to unwittingly break the law.
The 1986 of the Immigration Reduction and Control Act (IRCA), makes it illegal for an employer to hire an illegal alien. Violation of this law involves the felony of concealing, harboring, and shielding illegal aliens from detection and is demonstrated when employees lack work authorization documents, are paid in cash, Social Security or federal taxes are not withheld, and the employer fails to pay employer contributions.
Maryland already operates “One-Stop Career Centers” that are federally funded and designed to help Maryland citizens find work. Day labor centers circumvent and undermine these taxpayer-funded operations. Employers use day labor centers instead of One-Stops to avoid legal standards, pay less than the minimum wage, fail to withhold salary for taxes, and avoid paying into the unemployment fund and other expenses. This decreases job opportunities for legal workers who are unwilling to work for cash payments under the table. As a result, the wages of qualified workers suffer. The effect of the day labor centers is, therefore, to benefit the illegal alien workers and the employers who are breaking the law in hiring them, while at the same time undercutting the earning potential and opportunities for some of the Maryland’s most needy workers. It also increases the burden on taxpayers because of the cost of general assistance provided to the out-of-work residents.
Many of the employers of day laborers are “fly-by-night” contractors. Construction work is highly competitive, and unless the contractor is working on a government contract, the cost of wages may determine who wins the contract. In this kind of environment, the contractor who cuts labor costs has an advantage. A contractor who is scrupulous about respecting the law and hiring only legal workers is thus at a comparative disadvantage. Over time, greater pressure will develop for all competitors to use illegal workers, and the wages that are offered to day laborers may become depressed so far that legal workers are unwilling to take these jobs.
A day labor hiring center that makes no distinction between legal and illegal workers sends a message to illegal workers that our society does not care whether a worker is legally in the country or is in violation of our immigration law. It also invites other illegal aliens to come and take advantage of the inviting environment. Because of its day labor centers and other social services, Maryland is known throughout Central America to be the preferred destination for illegal aliens!
In every community where Maryland has established day labor centers, there continues to be an active market for day labors in nearby public spaces. Why? Because the kind of unscrupulous business person that would hire illegal aliens is probably illegal himself – unlicensed, not paying taxes, and likely to cheat his workers. Such businesses do not want to register with the day labor center. Once the day laborers realize this, they stop using the center, and go back to congregating on street corners. Plus, the day labor centers won’t serve workers who are drunk, on drugs, or act disorderly.