Illegal Immigrants Rally for Workers' Compensation Rights

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- They weren't your average protesters Thursday at the state Capitol.

Some were illegal immigrants, rallying for the state to grant them rights to workers' compensation.

"We're only one of two states in the nation that does not allow workers that are undocumented to compensate when they are injured on the job," said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib from Detroit.

She introduced a bill Thursday in the House that would change that -- extend Michigan's workers' compensation rights to illegal immigrants.

Tlaib says many of the estimated 100,000 illegals in Michigan are workers. And while most of them pay into social security and real estate taxes, none of them is afforded the right to compensation if they're injured on the job.

"Allowing workers' compensation for all injured workers is a better system than allowing people to be part of a black market of undocumented workers," Tlaib said at the rally.

Some of her fellow lawmakers, though, say her bill doesn't stand a chance.

"The only thing we should be giving illegal immigrants is a bus ride home," said state Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, after hearing about the bill.

He pointed out many illegal immigrants defraud companies with fake social security numbers in order to land jobs -- jobs he says should go to Michiganders.

"Companies pay into this system," Jones said Thursday. "It's very expensive, and it should be there for a hard-working American."

But Tlaib and others point out that requiring companies to pay workers' comp might discourage them from hiring illegal immigrants in the first place.


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