Obama administration gut immigration enforcement

June 23, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader

After a two-month review of worksite enforcement policies, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) issued new guidelines on April 30 for its agents in the field. The guidelines appear to reinforce the Obama administrationís intent to gut immigration enforcement, especially when it comes to detaining and removing illegal aliens in the workplace.

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has stated that the focus of the administrationís enforcement strategy will be the prosecution of employers who hire illegal aliens. However, under the new guidelines, enforcement against employers would likely be very limited. ICE will rely less heavily on tips from workers and others in deciding which companies to target for enforcement. Tips from the public are used routinely in every other area of law enforcement, and have successfully led to prosecutions of employers who hire illegal aliens. However, the new guidelines would curtail the use of informants in immigration enforcement.

Guidelines designed to reduce arrest and removal of illegal alien workers

Although DHS claims that "ICE will continue to arrest and process for removal any illegal workers who are found in the course of these work-site enforcement actions," the guidelines seem designed to reduce dramatically the arrest and removal of illegal alien workers. Before ICE can begin a worksite enforcement action against an illegal alien employee, the agency will be required to obtain an agreement by a federal prosecutor to press criminal charges against the employer. Such a requirement is unusual and difficult to secure. It is rare for prosecutors to agree to bring charges before they have reviewed all of the evidence.

Even in cases in which illegal aliens are arrested in the workplace, their removal from the country is far from certain. Processing for removal could simply mean releasing the illegal aliens and giving them a notice to appear in court to begin removal proceedings. Such a practice would be tantamount to reinstating the catch and release policy - a futile practice that was ended in 2006.

FAIR has long advocated vigorous prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens and will support any sincere policy to hold employers accountable. Reducing the availability of U.S. jobs to illegal aliens is the cornerstone of any effective policy to reduce and reverse illegal immigration, and can be accomplished only when employers understand that there will be meaningful consequences for hiring illegal aliens. The new ICE guidelines, while appearing to take a get-tough approach toward scofflaw employers, fall far short of providing a real deterrence.

FAIR also rejects the idea that tougher enforcement against employers and enforcement against illegal workers are mutually exclusive and cannot be carried out at the same time. The guidelines appear to be a major concession on the part of the Obama administration to the illegal alien advocacy lobbyís demands that detention and removal of illegal aliens be curtailed. These guidelines, along with other actions taken by the administration, give the American public little reason to believe that promises of future enforcement would be kept in exchange for amnesty.

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