Are you considering buying a ticket for your undocumented nanny or housekeeper to accompany your family for Pesach vacation? Traveling for Pesach means lots of confusion, cleaning, washing stacks of dishes, and laundry – especially if you plan on renting an apartment or condo in Florida. If you’re tempted to fly your nanny or housekeeper to your Pesach destination, you should know that even domestic travel may buy her a one-way ticket back to her home country with potentially severe legal consequences to you as her employer.

True, nannies are entrusted with the most important people in our lives – our children – and our housekeepers are trusted with our very homes and our prized belongings. They are like members of our extended family and we rely on them to keep our busy lives running smoothly. As it is increasingly difficult to find authorized workers willing and able to do these jobs, many families have hired undocumented workers to do work performed around the house.


While I don’t condone the hiring of unauthorized workers, as a father of four I do understand the difficulties of finding experienced childcare. Even if you’re not planning on running for political office, there are potentially serious consequences for knowingly hiring undocumented workers.

You may be subject to substantial civil fines or criminal charges for recruiting, employing and harboring illegal aliens. Your need for a clean house during Pesach will certainly not be a viable defense to a charge of knowingly transporting an illegal alien across state lines by plane or other conveyance. Further, your nanny or housekeeper will be subject to deportation if found to be working without proper documentation.

Whenever anyone travels, whether by air or on ground, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is present to oversee operations. Nannies, housekeepers and other undocumented individuals should be wary as they pass through airports, bus terminals, train stations or other crowded areas where authorities may require documentation.

In addition to the TSA checking identification, there are multiple other agencies charged with seeking out unauthorized noncitizens, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and state and local police departments. If you do choose to employ undocumented workers in your home, you are assuredly ill-advised to take them with you on your family vacation.

Our nation was literally built on the backs of immigrants; many readers of this article are the children and grandchildren of individuals who came to this country with little more than the clothing they wore. It was their hard work that laid the foundation for the secure future of our families. At the same time, our nation is growing and the threat of terrorism and illegal entry into the country is also expanding. As a result, increasingly strict laws have been put into place to protect our nation’s borders and our economy.

Your nanny or housekeeper, though an integral contributor to your family, is not afforded the same freedom of travel as a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or a noncitizen with work authorization. Homeland Security and other federal agencies are looking for illegal aliens on commercial airliners, private planes, trains or buses, particularly in light of recent events.

It may be time to get out the extra pair of rubber gloves to do dishes, employ local legal help if you can find it or hire your friend’s high school-age daughter to babysit at night.

I strongly support the contributions immigrants continue to make to our country, but until our system of immigration is reformed it is important to stay on the right side of the law. If you do happen to employ an undocumented nanny or housekeeper, he or she should certainly not be part of your out-of-state Pesach vacation.

Try to remember, when you hear of a congressional debate about an anticipated act that will fix our broken immigration system, to participate in convincing your congressperson of the need to enable sponsorship of foreign domestic workers who are so needed here.

Let’s hope that by next Pesach you will be able to include your household help in your plans for the holiday.


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Michael J. Wildes, is the managing partner of Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. Mr. Wildes is a former federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn (1989-1993) who has testified on Capitol Hill in connection with anti-terrorism legislation. An adjunct professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York teaching business immigration law, he served from 2004 through 2010 as mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, where he resides. Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. has offices in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Los Angeles by appointment only. To contact Michael Wildes, e-mail him at and visit the firm’s website at