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WORKERSCOMPENSATION By MELANIE TRUSTY Capital News Service LANSING – A Grand Ledge representative wants to stop illegal aliens from “stealing jobs” from Michigan residents and receiving workers‟ compensation benefits if they‟re injured on the job. “The word „illegal‟ must mean something, and if an alien defrauds a company with fake identification, he should not be able to get benefits from the system,” said Rep. Rick Jones, a Republican. Jones announced his proposal after he discovered the case of an illegal alien who collected workers‟ compensation benefits for eight years for a back injury suffered while working for a Southfield-based company. “I‟ve heard from carpenters and other workers who have reported job losses in Michigan due to illegal aliens,” Jones said. However, Teresa Hendricks, the executive director of Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project Inc. in Grand Rapids, said if Jones understood the workers‟ compensation system, he wouldn‟t pursue the bill. “The employers that I talked to want their undocumented workers covered,” Hendricks said. Workers‟ compensation entitles an employee to wage replacement, medical and rehabilitation benefits as a result of work-related injury or disease. The Department of Labor and Economic Growth has no position on Jones‟ proposal, said Jack Nolish, director of the Workers‟ Compensation Agency. Nolish said the agency doesn‟t ask about immigration status when an injured worker makes a claim. Jones said his bill isn‟t aimed at legal migrant farm workers. “We need migrant farm workers,” Jones said. “I just have a problem with illegal aliens using false identification to get Michigan jobs.” Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit, said all workers deserve benefits, regardless of their immigration status. Tobocman said Jones‟ bill would encourage employers to hire undocumented workers because employers wouldn‟t have to pay for workers‟ compensation insurance if becomes a law. “It‟s the wrong incentive to send for Michigan,” he said.
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