The Nanny Effect, Or The Fly In The Ointment Of Trump's Deportation Plans

In the wake of President Reagan's 1986 immigration reform (IRCA), federal regulators had to define who was covered for worksite immigration enforcement purposes. Thus an obscure tidbit in the Code of Federal Regulations was born. 8 C.F.R. 274a.1(h) defines "employment" as "any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States ...[H]owever, employment does not include casual employment by individuals who provide domestic service in a private home that is sporadic, irregular or intermittent."

Hmmm. Why do you think such "casual employment" was taken off the radar of the immigration police? Well, because the drafters quickly realized that most members of Congress, staffers and even Cabinet members more than likely employed such undocumented "casual" workers, and God forbid the grandees of DC should go without their domestic help.

This is old news to me. I've been practicing immigration law 31 years, and over that span of time I've attended many parties at which the cocktail chatter turned to border enforcement, my job, and what a nice guy like me was doing working for "those damn immigrants." And yet... when I was alone at the food table, getting seconds on guacamole, I would invariably be approached by the same guy (or gal) who, a moment earlier, in public, had demanded tighter borders. "Listen," he'd say, "I've got this nanny (or maid, or gardener) and she needs papers. Can you help us out? After all, she's one of the good ones."

And there you have it. Beating the drum, in public, for more border control, while begging, in private, for visas for "the good ones." Talk to most any business owner and you'll find the same thing: tough talk in public, but privately demanding more visas for the employees essential to their businesses.

When the rubber meets the road, all attempts by the Trump Administration to get any tougher than the Obama Administration has been on immigration - and that has been plenty tough - will be stymied by The Nanny Effect.

"More guacamole, anyone? Our cook made it! She's undocumented, but she's one of the good ones..."