Last year the Boston Globe reported that illegal immigrants were working at Mitt Romney's house in Belmont, MA. The company Romney hired to provide landscaping services had hired illegal immigrants. As reported in today's Boston Globe, Romney discussed the situation with the owner of the landscaping company, "After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions," Romney said in the statement. "They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status. We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter. The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.
"The company's failure to comply with the law is disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action," Romney said.
I must admit I find Ricardo Saenz's statement hard to believe.
Were Romney's actions wrong? For example, should he or a member of his campaign staff asked for and examined the documents of the workers? NO! Imagine the headlines, "As in the days of Nazi Germany, Romney asks workers for papers". It is the responsibility of the employer to execute the I-9 form and examine the documents. Should Romney have asked to see the I-9 forms? NO! The I-9 contains personal information, namely, a social security number and that is confidential information belonging to the employer.
Got to www.uscis.gov for the rules regarding the I-9.
Should Romney have terminated the landscaping service immediately back in December 2006? NO! Again, imagine the uproar about how he should have given the firm a second chance to take the appropriate corrective action.
The Globe article states that one of the illegal immigrants told the employer that he was illegal. The worker then later provided the employer with forged documents. As per the I-9 rules, it is not the responsibility of the employer to verify the authenticity of the documents.
So what should have been done?
First, everything was done correctly, unless the employees provided documents that obviously appeared to be fakes. At that point the employees must be suspended until proper documentation can be provided. The employer is at fault if the employer knew that the documents were fake and continued to employ the illegal immigrants.
Second, nothing else should have been done in the past and terminating the landscaper today is the proper action.
The political pundits may have a field day with this. And Romney will suffer for doing everything right.