Information on the Enforcement of Laws Regarding Employment of Aliens in Selected Countries

Gao ID: GGD-82-86 August 31, 1982

In response to a congressional request, GAO identified those countries that have laws prohibiting employers from hiring illegal aliens, how such laws are enforced, and any problems which these countries encounter in enforcing their laws.

GAO found that the governments of most of the surveyed countries have been increasingly concerned with legal and illegal alien workers. Growing unemployment and increasing numbers of aliens have induced government actions to control alien workers. Although each country has laws penalizing employers of illegal aliens, such laws are not an effective deterrent in stemming the employment of illegal aliens because: (1) employers either are able to evade responsibility for hiring illegal aliens or, once apprehended, are penalized too little to deter such acts; and (2) the laws are not being effectively enforced because of legal constraints on investigations, noncommunication between government agencies, lack of enforcement resolve, and lack of personnel. In France and Germany, new laws have gone into effect to increase the effectiveness of their employer sanctions and in Switzerland, a public referendum scheduled for later this year will decide whether to implement new immigration legislation. With the exception of West Germany, each surveyed country has a seasonal worker program. Generally, the seasonal workers complied with their entry conditions and did not pose problems for the countries which employed them. Both Canada and France have had programs to give illegal aliens an opportunity to obtain legal status. A number of government officials complained about the number of aliens who requested political asylum and efforts are being made to streamline the asylum process for those believed to be economic refugees.

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