Guam - Since 2010, close to 200 illegal workers were discovered to be working at local businesses and construction job sites on Guam. And according to Senator Tom Ada the businesses found employing these alien workers have faced no consequences.
Introduced by Senator Ada over a month ago, Bill 130 would assess fines against individuals or businesses that employ alien workers who are without lawful authorization to work in Guam. In addition to imposing penalties on these businesses, the measure expands the power of the department of labor to further investigate the work status of alien worker. "We support the intent of the bill," stated acting DOL director Manny Cruz, adding that the measure is definitely needed.
"The problem is not so much us is the fact that we come face to face with these people, but we cannot do anything with it. We cannot detain them, we can only report them but even if we do report them to immigration, immigration does not really respond as quickly as possible," he said.
According to Ada, U.S. Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division currently arrests and prosecutes aliens who are illegally working in Guam. The bill proposes that should an alien who is without lawful work status be found at a business or jobsite in Guam, a $1,000 per worker fine would be assessed for the first violation, $2,500 for the second and $5,000 for the third.
Cruz however says he hopes the bill's author will take into account some of the department's concerns, saying, "The concern that I have is I don't want any legal objections because let's say we approach an employee and we question him about certain things then we could be violating his rights and that's what I don't want to have that happen."
And while Cruz feels the bill is definitely needed, he says DOL does not have enough staff and hopes a funding source is identified to fully implement the bill's intent. Ada meanwhile says Bill 130 would help protect local jobs noting that in the past four years, 196 illegal workers have been encountered by the department's Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division - all of whom Ada says have taken jobs that could have gone to residents of Guam.
Cruz agrees saying Bill 130 would help DOL move forward with its mission to create more employment and training opportunities locally. "The fact also is we want to do things right - if people are abusing the system, we want to correct those," he said.
A public hearing meanwhile on Bill 130 is set for Tuesday, July 9 at nine in the morning. To further read on Bill 130, go to GuamLegislature.com.