HR Management & Compliance

Amnesty for Aliens: Good for the Country (and Your Company) or Bad?

By HRDA Editor Stephen D. Bruce, PHR

Just My E-Pinion

A recent question to the BLR® HR Forum about amnesty for illegal aliens generated an interesting set of responses, all well-reasoned, although not all agreeing.

The question was:

Just wondering what my HR colleagues think of granting mass amnesty to illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S. I know the Obama administration has been promoting this as a possible way to address the immigration issue(s) in the U.S.

Believe it or not, even in this economy we have low-level maintenance jobs that we cannot ever seem to fill with legal employees. We have our fair share of applicants who cannot demonstrate eligibility to work in the U.S. (presumably illegal aliens) and (obviously) cannot hire them. They are otherwise qualified and have demonstrated an enthusiasm and willingness to do the work which no one else will.

We do not want to violate the law, but WE DO WANT TO FILL THE POSITIONS … seems a shame not to employ otherwise employable people in jobs that remain open. What do you think about amnesty for illegal aliens currently in the U.S.?

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Here are some of the responses we received:

“In my opinion, if people enter the country illegally, they are committing an illegal act. They should not be rewarded for breaking the law. If the U.S. does not enforce its immigration laws, what good are the laws? If a person wants to live and work in the United States, he or she should follow the rules. I question whether any position is hard to fill these days—with proper advertising, I think just about any job can be filled by a qualified person who is eligible to work in the U.S.”

“Amnesty seems like the U.S. just throwing up its hands, admitting defeat, and admitting that it is incapable of enforcing the immigration laws we have. Not acceptable, not fair, and not right.”

“One reason it’s hard to fill jobs paying under $10 [is that multiple extensions of unemployment] is way more bang for the buck. Some of the hardest recruitment months I’ve ever experienced have been around a serious economic slide.”

“Reagan, in the name of small government, gave us the I-9 and amnesty for some 4 million illegal aliens. The I-9 didn’t protect jobs significantly, and I don’t think anybody took amnesty as a sign that illegal entry was a bad idea.”

“It’s not clear to me that there is any solution for job protectionism short of centralizing birth and death records and issuing national ID cards. That’s highly unpopular for reasons both real (privacy, state sovereignty) and imagined (tinfoil hattery), but so are the many real and imagined problems with illegal aliens.”

“I know many people that have come to this country and gone about things the legal way to get citizenship. I do think that everyone should go do this if they want the same rights as other citizens. I know many have been very frustrated with the long, drawn-out process to get the paperwork processed for citizenship.”

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“Some will say the problem with some of those that are working illegally is that they are not using the money to stimulate the U.S. economy like the majority of the people (spending it at grocery stores, clothing stores, on mortgages, rent, etc.). They are taking the money they earn and sending it back home to their home country to help out family members there.”

“I’m not sure many people would debate that ideally anyone who wants to come to this country should do it through legal channels. The reality is that there are millions of undocumented workers living in the United States. Many have married—some to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants, and some to others who are undocumented. Many have children. In addition, undocumented workers provide an opportunity for “bad apple” employers who pay them less than they would U.S. workers, don’t provide benefits, and don’t pay taxes. This makes it more difficult for the law-abiding employers to compete.”

“I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think some type of amnesty will have to be part of immigration reform. I also think it’s the right thing to do, especially for those who have been living and working in the United States for a long time and participate in our society. That’s really the heart of the debate. There are plenty of people who believe it is the wrong thing to do and I think reasonable people can disagree on that point.”

What’s your thinking on amnesty for illegal aliens? Would it help your company fill jobs? Or take jobs away from legal workers? We’d love to hear your thoughts. E-mail me at or use the “Comments” button below.

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2 thoughts on “Amnesty for Aliens: Good for the Country (and Your Company) or Bad?”

  1. In my opinion the amnesty would be fair because the illegal people not only work for less money and more work but there are thousands of “Citizens” making a lot of money using illegal workers.Why? They pay low wages, not insurence,not safety training,fast work,but in return they get fast work, high quality, and no objections__the dream employee.

  2. The reality is that if you’re in this country illegally, you’re breaking the law.  In no other case I can think of do people get rewarded for breaking the law.  Yet it is my opinion that we can’t just ship everyone back to where they came from. We can’t send a mother and father, illegally in this country back and keep their 6-month old child, born in the US here.  Finally, we don’t even have a good accounting of who is and isn’t here illegally.

    I suggest we first identify illegal aliens and force them to either leave or sign into a registry as a first step.  Second, I would assess a fine for having broken the law. Third, I would require they begin the processs of naturalization from where they are right now. Finally, I would require that as part of the process they learn English.  Once these requirements have been met, I have no problem welcoming anyone from anywhere.  

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