Untested Consequences Come with Legislative Pushback on Immigration Order

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

In their haste to confront the Trump Administration on immigration, lawmakers on the local and state level are making proposals that have untested consequences for businesses and residents and even some of the immigrants themselves. Two examples: the Los Angeles proposal to legalize street vendors, whether the vendors are legal citizens or not; and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s AB 206 to require workers compensation applied to day laborers no matter their immigration status.

Street vending in Los Angeles is against the law. With Trump’s order that illegal immigrant criminals and alleged criminals should be subject for possible deportation, street vendors who are cited for breaking the law could be classified as criminals according to immigration advocates. No standards have been set by the administration yet and whether street vending will be classified as a serious enough crime to face deportation is uncertain. Yet, the Los Angeles City Council wants to act to remove the stigma of criminal association with street vendors.

For many brick-and-mortar small businesses, the City Council’s proposed action contains concerns. A number of small businesses complain that street vendors interfere with their businesses discouraging customers to shop at their stores. There has been debate for years within the Los Angeles government whether to legalize street vendors. Small business concerns and the possibility of crowded and untidy sidewalks have held back legalization in the past.

Now, however, political considerations have pushed the issue to the fore. Whatever objections raised by the brick-and-mortar small businesses, they have been shoved aside by politicians’ need to make statements in the current heated political atmosphere. The concerns raised by small businesses are no less important despite the politics of the moment.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher’s AB 206 is intended to apply workers compensation rules to day laborers regardless of their immigration status. Homeowners that need the help of a worker for a day would be subject to the law.

There are obvious consequences here, as well. If AB 206 becomes law it would only be fair to post at day laborer sites the requirement that workers compensation is required for day laborers. That means paperwork, added time and increased costs for the homeowner. Such a requirement will undoubtedly see potential employers drive off without picking up any workers when they see the sign notifying them of the expansion of workers compensation.

And that means much less work for the laborers the legislation is trying to protect.

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