SARASOTA, Fla. – We first reported Wednesday on undocumented construction workers that had not received a month and a half's worth of pay. ABC 7 also confronted both the president of the company and the construction manager via a conference call about another important factor in this story: the fact that they hired undocumented immigrants.
The dozen workers who claimed to be hired by the Texas company were in fact undocumented. In a conference call Wednesday, we asked both the company president and construction manager about hiring undocumented immigrants in the first place, the construction manager responded "all companies do this".
The president says he was unaware that undocumented workers were hired, but says that is part of the reason he buys insurance.
To address the contentious issue, Kelly Kirschner of Unidos Now believes lawmakers need to look at it on both a national and more local level. "Look at future penalties that are really hard, and address the issue of that demand point, of going after businesses that flaunt the system. And then also looking at ways that we can really start verifying and enforcing companies to verify that these are documented citizens."
As a professor of Sociology at New College, Sara Hernandez describes how prevalent undocumented workers are in the state of Florida. "For Florida, for instance, some folks are saying we could range from about 760,000 workers who are undocumented, up through, some would say, 825,000."
According to Pew research conducted in 2012, Florida ranks in the top 6 states home to 60% of unauthorized immigrants.
But as Kelly Kirschner explains, when it comes to the law and enforcement, it appears to be a matter of when it’s convenient for lawmakers to apply. "When it's convenient, we can steal their wages. When it's convenient, we can break up families and deport members of the families. And then when it's really convenient, we need them to build our homes and wash our dishes and serve our food and grow our food."