Let next president decide hiring ban


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008





        The Bush administration is asking a judge to lift an order blocking its effort to enforce the ban against hiring illegal aliens.



FEDERAL officials have tried to crack down on the hiring of illegal aliens for the past year but have encountered problems in verifying records. An attempt to resume the effort appears to be a desperate move to restart a flawed program that should be up to the next administration to correct.

Federal authorities arrested 43 Mexican workers at a Waipahu apartment complex in July and dozens of other allegedly illegal aliens this year on Oahu and Maui. The arrests resulted from happenstance tips rather than a systematic review of Social Security records.

A Department of Homeland Security effort to spot employee records that did not match Social Security information was stopped by a federal judge in California because of clerical errors. The judge found that the flawed system could force companies to fire legal workers because of discrepancies, such as a woman employee's failure to update her last name upon marriage.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, is asking the judge to lift the order, claiming that his agency has addressed the concerns. He maintained that groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have opposed the program because companies would be hurt they had to adhere to it.

Chertoff announced the renewed attempt in his annual speech on immigration, also declaring unprecedented progress in reducing illegal immigration. However, studies conducted even before the financial crisis of the past month indicate that the decline was more likely to have been caused by the weakened economy.

The Bush administration's attempt to prevent the hiring of illegal aliens has been well-intended but poorly administered. A new administration should have a fresh look at achieving the goal.