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On the Fence

Entrepreneurs weigh in on the immigration debate.

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This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After being hotly debated around the country, President Bush's plan for broad immigration reform is likely dead in Congress until next year. Among the plan's provisions is a crackdown on businesses that hire illegal immigrants-and that's an idea legitimate businesspeople welcome. Robert Sparrow, owner and president of 1st Call Cleaning Services in San Antonio, Texas, says that without shady competitors offering below-market prices made possible by cheaper undocu-mented labor, his commercial-cleaning business would boom. "Then our customers would have to pay an appropriate amount to have their buildings cleaned," says the 40-year-old entrepreneur, whose business has $2 million in annual sales.

Business owners worry that they may unwittingly hire illegal workers using phony documents and be penalized for it. Better methods of verifying a worker's status that don't overburden businesses are definitely needed, says Todd Hess, owner and president of Todd Hess Building Co. in Portland, Oregon.

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