Immigration Enforcement

Business owner says illegal immigration costing local jobs

By Mark Wineka

mwineka@salisburypost.com

Ron Wetzler has had enough.

The owner of Olympic Drywall and Texturing in Rowan County says he’s losing out on jobs awarded instead to subcontractors who employ illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans.

It’s happening on both commercial and residential construction projects in Rowan County, Wetzler claims.

He doesn’t have proof as to which workers are illegal. The way it works, he says, is usually the subcontractor himself is a legal resident, who then pays his crews — most of whom are here illegally — in cash.

Wetzler says the Hispanic workers’ wages are low — maybe $50 a day. No one’s paying workers’ compensation or liability insurance, and the government is seeing nothing in taxes. It all combines to make it hard for companies such as his to compete.

“They’re so far under us in cost,” Wetzler says.

He recently reported his suspicions about one job site to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, which told him to take the matter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While local sheriff’s offices, including Rowan, have stepped up their identification and deportation of illegal immigrants who commit crimes, the emphasis has been just that — illegal immigrants who end up arrested and in county jails.

The N.C. Department of Labor has no program in place to which citizens can report their suspicions about illegal immigrants on job sites. Those calls also are referred to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s tip line, which for now is about the only recourse Wetzler and others like him have.

The federal tip line number is 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

More…

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July 22, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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