IPFS Dave Hodges

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Meet California: Mexico’s 32nd State

In 1982, Bulgarian born, Emil Vassileu legally arrived in the United States as a political refugee   

Because Emil was a top student, he was previously allowed to attend a top Bulgarian university prior to his arrival in Cleveland where he contacted the Dean of Case Western Reserve University. Despite the fact that he spoke very broken English, the Dean so impressed that Emil was admitted as a junior. In 1985, he received a B.S. in civil engineering and left for California; his first big mistake.   

In 1986, he enjoyed his version of the American Dream by starting his own business, Van Elk, Ltd., a welding and steel-working company which bids on private and public works projects. Today, Van Elk, Ltd. has grown to ten full-time employees and has enjoyed profitability for over twenty years.

Emil has always endeavored to teach his craft to his employees and subsequently allowing them the same opportunities he enjoyed. His employees were always appreciative of their opportunities; at least, they used to be. However, in September 2003, four former employees sued Van Elk arguing that they had not been paid in accordance with California’s mini-Davis-Bacon law, which sets “prevailing wages” for employees.


Emil’s first legal response was that five of the eight projects named by the former employees were not public works projects; instead, they were purely private projects. As to the remaining three claims, they were for off-site work at Van Elk’s shop and were not subject to prevailing wages. 

During the course of legal discovery, Van Elk’s California lawyers learned that the former employees were in the United States illegally and, if a 2002 ruling by the United States Supreme Court applied, the illegal alien employees could not file a lawsuit to collect unpaid wages. Therefore, in July 2004, Van Elk’s lawyers argued that the Davis-Bacon Act did not apply to his former illegal alien employees. Also, Van Elk’s lawyers argued that the California court lacked the prerequisite jurisdiction necessary to hear the case because of the previous Supreme Court ruling, which deprived the illegal aliens of their right to sue. In November 2004, the Los Angeles Superior Court agreed, holding that, in accordance with Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), the former employees could not sue for unpaid prevailing wages because they were illegal aliens. 

In the Hoffman case, the Supreme Court ruled that federal labor laws did not supersede federal immigration laws by ruling (5-4) that illegal aliens could not sue to collect back pay. The Supreme Court further ruled that labor laws sought to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices, which required employer penalties and sanctions as well as the ability of wronged employees to sue. At the same time, recognized the Court, granting illegal aliens the rights citizens enjoy would both “trivialize the immigration laws” and violate Congress’s intent to end the unlawful employment of illegal aliens, which Congress called a “magnet . . . attract[ing] aliens here illegally.”  Plus, held the Court, “traditional remedies,” including civil and criminal proceedings, are a sufficient “spur and catalyst” to ensure that employers follow the law and do not hire illegal aliens in the first place. The Hoffman ruling  was too much for un-American California legislators who responded in kind by enacting prevailing wage statutes that provided that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hoffman, in determining whether an employee could sue for prevailing wages, one’s own personal immigration status was “irrelevant.”  Therefore, when Van Elk’s former employees appealed, the California Court of Appeal seized upon the language in California’s post-Hoffman statutes and reversed the lower court’s ruling. 

Further, the Court of Appeals rejected Van Elk’s lawyers’ argument that, by overturning Hoffman, the California Legislature violated the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Now, hold on a minute, I learned in the eighth grade that a federal law supersedes a state law. Oh, but that was when the United States Constitution was still relevant as was a person’s immigration status. And of course, constitutional law could only apply if California was actually an American state. Ironically, I recently read  that President Bush said that illegal immigrants do work, for cheaper, that Americans will not perform.

On October 22, 2007, Van Elk appealed to the United States Supreme Court to decide whether Hoffman applies or should be extended to apply to its situation. The real issue at hand is to decide who is in charge of United States immigration policy, Congress or California?

Personally, I feel that if California wants to set itself above the rest of the country and follow its own unconstitutional path, then by all means, let it do so. But let it do so at its own peril which includes sacrificing the benefits and privileges befitting an American state in good standing with the Constitution.  .

Any historian could tell you that California became the 31st state, in the United States, on September 9, 1850 with its first capital being located in San Jose. 

In the modern day version of the shelling of Ft Sumter, it is the considered opinion of this American citizen that California legally left the United States with the Van Elk decision. Therefore, the California Legislature should seriously consider moving its capital to Mexico City and become the 32nd State, IN MEXICO!

Haven’t you had enough of this type of insanity?

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