Ignorance of Immigration Laws Generates Discrimination Cases
From El Diario
August 8, 2003

By Enrique Soria

When both employers and employees are ignorant of immigration laws, it can lead to discrimination against job applicants. But the immigration authorities also complicate the situation with bureaucratic delays in the processing of documents that allow immigrant to work in the country.

Juan Fernández, of the Human Rights Commission of the City of New York, said yesterday that the most outstanding cases of discrimination have to do with the fact that the businesses demand proof of eligibility to work in the Unites States, and that this discrimination is based on the national origin of the applicant.

Fernández clarified that the law says what type of documents an applicants may give, and corresponds to the applicant that he may choose which type of proof to give the employer.

Fernández explained that a “green card” is not an indispensable demand on the part of the employer, if the applicant is able to demonstrate his permission to work with different work authorization cards.

“The employers should not demand [green cards] if the law believes that the applicant can identify himself and clarify his status” with other types of documents understood in the current immigration law.

The functionary of the commission in question also said that there have been cases in which the employers have required the “green card” of Puerto Ricans or Hispanic Americans – who, as U.S. citizens, do not need green cards [to live and work in the country]. “These are cases of discrimination by national origin.”

For her part, Ana Maria Bazán, of the New York Immigration Coalition, (a non-governmental agency that assists immigrants), explained that immigrants who rely on work permits are at risk, for once they expire, the authorities do not renew them in the time allotted by the law.

“For example, the law says that an expired working document should be renewed in the space of 90 days. This is the process. And in the case of delay, they have to give an temporary authorization for 240 days while the 90 day process continues.” Bazán assures that the authorities fail in many cases. The delay of the proceedings, and the slowness to grant the 240-day authorization ends with the applicants losing or remaining without work, not having documents to show to the employer.

Yesterday, the Human Rights Commission in conjunction with the Coalition, developed a system of legal marks, that protect immigrants that seek work and insists on denouncing employers that violate the laws that punish discrimination in job centers.

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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs

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