January 5, 2011: NECN has announced that newly sworn in Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has rescinded an immigration order put in place by former Republican Gov. Carcieri in 2008, calling it “devisive.” The controversial order required contractors and state departments to verify legal immigration status of new employees in R. I. While the old order didn’t totally curtail the use of illegal employees at lower wages by building contractors, what will be the result to private business with no regulation whatsoever?
In recent years, long-established legitimate painting and building contractors have seen business drop off by drastic percentages due to the employment of illegal immigrants, who work under the table at cheaper rates. From observation of construction sites around the state, the old order wasn’t enforced entirely effectively and employers with illegal workers continue to exist.
In the State of Rhode Island, contractors “must” be licensed with the state, show proof of liability insurance and workmen’s compensation, if more than one employee, yet there are many residential home improvement and building contractors skating by without a license. While the R. I. State Contractor’s Board warns:
“It is a misdemeanor offense to not be registered in the State of Rhode Island without a proper registration card issued by the Board and violators are subject to fines of up to $5,000.00 for the first offense.”
The mission of the Board is:
“to safeguard the consumers rights related to contracted improvements to residential property, while providing a fair and positive environment for the construction industry.”
How will this mission be enforced under Independent Gov. Chafee’s new rescinding action? Here is a list of Rhode Island contractors who have invalid, suspended or revoked licenses as listed on the Board’s site.
While the gist of Gov. Chafee’s action is an admirable effort to allow immigrants a fast track to the American dream, it is also idealistic and made pursuable at whose expense and at what cost to the State? Illegals without green cards do not pay R. I. or federal income tax is the most obvious detriment with broad-reaching negative economic effects for legitimate employers, workers, families, and businesses throughout the state. Small business must be regulated to protect the rights of all Rhode Island citizens and consumers and provide a level playing field for private sector business growth.