Wednesday, April 05, 2006
My solution (one of several) to the immigration problem
While the House and the Senate argue about comprehensive immigration reform laws, amnesty plans, non-amnesty plans that let immigrants stay if they pay a fee, walls on the border, more Border Patrol agents, etc., etc., etc., I have a much simpler solution that would garner support (and indeed, participation by) one of the most powerful forces in the United States today: the trial lawyers.
Simply put, my solution is to allow the public to seek enforcement of immigration laws by way of what is known as a Qui Tam action. "Qui Tam" is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro si ipso in hac parte sequitor", which means "Who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself." These actions are brought by an informer under statutes providing penalties for acts of commission or omission and providing that the penalty may be recoverable by a private party in a civil action. The private party, in return for bringing the Qui Tam action, is allowed to keep a portion of the penalties recovered (the remainder going to the government treasury). A Qui Tam Plaintiff, then, sues on behalf of himself as well as for the state.
Current federal law allows Qui Tam actions in limited circumstances, primarily through the Federal False Claim Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729. Originally enacted around the time of the Civil War, the act has gutted in many respects during World War II until significant amendments were made in 1986.
The 1986 amendments to the FCA were very successful, particularly in regards to corruption, waste and false claims in the defense industry.
Since 1986, over 3,000 FCA cases have been filed and about $3 billion has been recovered. The average recovery in an FCA case is $5.8 million, and the average whistleblower's reward has been about $1 million. The government intervenes in only 21 percent of the FCA cases.I would enact a new statute allowing private citizens to bring Qui Tam actions seeking recovery of the penalties applicable to private businesses that employee illegal aliens. Allow the successful plaintiff to keep 40% of the penalty as the contingent reward for successful actions.
Why do I think this would work? Because I know how large plaintiff's firms work. They create a model lawsuit, then simply duplicate and revise the pleadings for each new case filed. That minimizes the time each lawyer must put into the suit and therefore maximizes profits off the recovery. Given the corporate giants we know employ illegal aliens, there is a very lucrative source of funds to recover. That would provide a good deal of incentive to private lawyers to accept, file, and prosecute the actions.
So, what would this due outside of providing a new source of revenue to lawyers? Plenty. Currently, corporations have little incentive to strictly obey employment laws barring illegal aliens from employment. Last year, only five U.S. businesses were prosecuted for employing illegal aliens.