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Immigration laws pathetic

In Lodi, Calif., the death of a pregnant teenager pruning grape vines in a vineyard has sparked a vocal outcry from the farmworking community.

Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez was a 17-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant. Her death has brought attention to the poor working conditions she faced with her employer, Merced Farm Labor, which has a history of violations.

And while Jimenez’s story should be told and the working conditions for workers should naturally be within the framework of the law, it also should bring attention to companies’ hiring practices.

The bottom line is illegal immigrants undermine American workers and, in turn, the U.S. economy.

Some employers justify the use of illegal immigrants with the excuse that they cannot find others willing to work the oftentimes labor-intensive jobs.

However, that is a convenient excuse for employers to hire illegals, drive down wages and increase profits.

The bottom line is there are plenty of workers who are willing to put in a hard day’s work for the right wage.

But realistically, many employers are simply not willing to increase the wage when they realize the government is not serious about enforcing laws that prohibit the employment of illegal immigrants.

In March, the Bush administration increased the minimum and maximum penalties for companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

It is a step in the right direction, but Congress needs to improve upon its miserable track record in this area and give some teeth to laws that will curb employers from hiring illegals.

That sort of policy would be beneficial for every community in every state.

Such a step would not only help American workers, but would slow the flow of illegal immigrants if there are no jobs waiting for them.

The U.S. government has coddled violating companies long enough and it’s time to get a handle on this crisis.