Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Frederick Commissioner Chuck Jenkins Still Working on Immigration Issues

After having his proposal to withhold county services for illegal immigrants nixed by the full County Commissioner, Commissioner Chuck Jenkins (R) has not stopped his effort to curb the effects of illegal immigration. Jenkins latest effort is one that would seem to be clearly within the power of the state and county to enact--revocation of a business' license to operate if they hire illegal workers. Now in Maryland, business licenses are issued by the state, but building permits are issued by the counties and Jenkins is working on a proposal that would prohibit the county from issuing a license to any contractor who hires illegal immigrant labor.
Jenkins is now formulating, in consultation with the county attorney, a plan to audit local businesses that receive building permits from the county.

If those businesses are found to employ illegal workers, they could be fined and the workers fired.

Jenkins said he will be working on the proposal through January, and hopefully submit something to the board by early February.

Part of his intention to pass a similar proposal, Jenkins said, was to pressure the people hiring illegal immigrants.

While some Frederick business owners agree with this type of proposal in theory, they want to see more details about how it would be enforced and funded.

Mark Adams, owner of Adams Construction and Welding, said there ought to be stiffer penalties for businesses that hire illegal workers.

If companies are trying to get cheap labor, shut them down, Adams said.
Not unexpectedly, there are some businesses who think that the Jenkins proposal is unnecessary since there are federal laws on the books that supposedly prevent the hiring of illegal immigrant workers.

This is of course true, there are federal laws on the books, but enforcement is pitiful to non-existant. Adding to the mix is the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement don't want local authorities to enforce their laws. So Jenkins is doing what he can, using the local permitting process to serve a greater good.

Now of course, there are economic implications. Building permits usuall mean home building as well and when the labor pool shrinks because you take illegals out of the mix, the cost of labor goes up and the price of homes goes up. That is economics 101. But Frederick County's labor shortage will be offset a little by the influx of legal immigrant and native workers coming to the higher paying jobs. That means more higher wages and higher standard of living for everyone, and of course, more legitimate tax revenue. Illegal immigration puts a downward pressure on labor costs. Of course contractors will use the lowest possible priced labor and I don't blame them for doing so. But if we are to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into this state and this county, we have to start by ending the incentives for employers to hire illegals thus providing jobs.

Commissioner Jenkins appears to be the only Frederick County leader is who really interested in making immigration and immigration policy a local issue as well as a national issue. He can see the linkage between increased illegal immigration and the impact on the economic and social fabric of the community. He also appears to be the only Commissioner really interested in the rule of law.

Contact Commissioner Jenkins and offer your support, particularly if you live in Frederick County.

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