... -headlines
May 29, 2005 latimes.

Employers of Illegal Immigrants Face Little Risk of Penalty
By Anna Gorman, Times Staff Writer

Nearly every day, immigrants newly arrived from Mexico pick up job applications at Car Wash on Sunset.

Owner George Garcia insists that they provide proof, such as Social Security or green cards, that they are authorized to work. What he does not do is pick up the phone to see if the documents are phony.

"I run a business," he said. "Why is it my job to kick people out? It is not my responsibility to figure out who is legal and who is not legal. It's their job to stop them at the border."

Garcia doesn't worry about being fined or arrested by immigration authorities. Even if federal agents did raid his Los Angeles carwash and arrest his undocumented workers, it wouldn't take long to replace them.

"If I lost 20 guys," he said, "within a couple of days I'd have new guys."

The escalating debate over illegal immigration focuses primarily on those who sneak across the border, not on the jobs that lure them here or the people who hire them. When authorities do crack down on employers, it often is to stem terrorism, human smuggling or large-scale criminal operations.

In fact, the owners of hotels, farms, restaurants and retail stores who hire illegal workers â€