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Monday, June 16, 2014

Undocumented Aliens Ensnared By Workers' Compensation

Peter Rousmaniere comments today about the problems, threats and fears that undocumented aliens confront with the nation's patchwork of compensation programs. Injured undocumented aliens in states than mandate the submission of a social security number to file an initial application for workers' compensation benefits are particular targets for criminal fraud enforcement.

"The eight million undocumented workers comprise about 6% of the total civilian workforce. By studying estimates of undocumented worker penetration by occupations ranked by injury risk, one can reasonably project that undocumented workers sustain one out of every ten work injuries. This high volume is invisible to almost everyone except for adjusters, case managers, lawyers and others who work directly with injured workers and have learned their work and life patterns. The rate varies greatly, from maybe 2% in West Virginia, a low foreign-born population state, to over half within the fruit and vegetable producing counties of southern California."

Reconciliation of this issue remains uncertain for a multitude of reasons. The future of immediate national reform of immigration laws this election cycle now looks bleak with Eric Cantor's recent primary defeat. States will continue to use Social Security information for tax collection and enforcement, in addition to the reconciliation of other programs such as Medicare and unemployment benefits. 

Ironically as Rousmaniere points out in his commentary, the power of the employer over the employee, is a huge challenge to the improvement of safety and health in the workplace. Shifting the burden from employers to US taxpayers is problematic. As the Affordable Care Act is fined tuned in the years ahead, the issue of undocumented aliens will become both a more dominate moral and legal issue in need of reform.