Yesterday, I represented a recent Mexican immigrant in a traffic proceeding. He was working at a construction site and barely speaks a word of English.
He doesn't have an American drivers' license, but his employer requires him to drive a pickup truck, pursuant to his duties on the construction site. This is a standard pickup truck, and my client uses it to haul around gravel, construction equipment and materials. It was provided to him by his employer, for work-purposes. That said, the truck was unregistered, uninsured and had non-working headlights.
My client was pulled over by the police. He was cited for (a) driving without a license (b) driving an unregistered motor vehicle (c) driving without adequate insurance documents and (d) driving without working lamps (headlights).
There wasn't much we could do for him. His major concern was staying out of jail, because he was worried that this could trigger deportation proceedings. I managed to keep him out of jail, and I managed to get 1/2 of his charges reduced by way of plea bargaining.
That said, he would have a hefty fine. On the other hand, no jail or community service, which he was happy about. He owed the court roughly $550 in fines. My client told me that this equals almost a month's worth of wages.
The thing is, he had to pay this all out of his own pocket. He managed to tell me, in broken English, that his boss refused to pay for this ticket and that his boss tells the Mexican migrant workers that this is a "normal cost" that they have to endure, for the "privilege" of working in America.
I felt like this was total bullshit. I think the boss should be sued and forced to pay this ticket. Its his fault that this guy was driving around an unregistered, unsafe vehicle to begin with. Sure, my client had no licence, but the fees and penalties for that, alone, would have been far less, had the boss been doing his duties under the law, pursuant to the Social Contract.
If we want a more just and decent society, especially toward our immigrants, we need to make sure that the law applies not only to them, but also to the employers that exploit them. We sit around and blame the immigrants for "taking our jobs." But the fact of the matter is that these are innocent folks just looking for work. The real culprits here are the Jobsite Overseers.
One day, they will have to pay the piper for their transgressions...