Thursday, April 20, 2006

Immigration: First Shots Fired by Gov't

The war on immigrant workers and their families claimed its first casualties yesterday. The Express-News has the full story, but the details are clear. In at least nine states authorities arrested seven current and former IFCO Systems managers and hundreds of workers.

Some of the raids were coordinated in San Antonio and Houston were more than a few dozen workers were arrested and facilities were shut down.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested seven current and former IFCO Systems managers on charges they conspired to transport, harbor and encourage undocumented workers to reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain, said Glenn Suddaby, the chief federal prosecutor in Albany, N.Y., where some arrests were made.

In San Antonio, ICE agents showed up in bulletproof vests at the IFCO Systems complex on the Northeast Side, near Interstate 35 and Rittiman Road.
Sadly, the arrests that tore families apart and shut down businesses appear to be almost entirely political and not for actual homeland security.
The arrests appear to be timed to an announcement expected today from ICE and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, laying out an immigration enforcement strategy that targets employers' disregard for immigration law.
The new policy will not be to enforce current border law or to support right to work laws, but instead ICE will begin enforcing a zero tolerance law.
"ICE has no tolerance for corporate officers who harbor illegal aliens for their work force. Today's nationwide enforcement actions show how we will use all our investigative tools to bring these individuals to justice, no matter how large or small their company," said ICE chief Julie Myers.

Last week, operators of three restaurants in Baltimore pleaded guilty to similar immigration charges, while nine people affiliated with two temporary employment agencies that do business in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania were charged in a $5.3 million scheme involving the employment and harboring of illegal aliens.
These sorts of enforcement policies will have huge impacts on the economic improvement of the country because there is no infrastructure to thoroughly check the documents provided by workers against a detailed national system. This lack of infrastructure doesn’t provide for a viable defense for employers because the “law is the law”. And, with HR 4437, it will be a felony to employ, transport, feed, shelter, etc any migrant worker—regardless if you are a business or a church.

There are more than business impacts to these raids and new ICE policy. Families are now being torn apart and will have to figure out new solutions to new government imposed problems.
Relatives of workers rounded up in the raid said they were shocked and blasted the U.S. government for treating hard-working people like violent criminals, lamenting that now dozens of families will be suddenly torn apart.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do now," said one 29-year-old undocumented Mexican worker who escaped the local raid.

"But I know I have to find some kind of work, my kids have to eat," said the man, who declined to be named.

Lucia Andino said her husband had his papers ready when officials arrived, but a boy who has been living with them and worked for the company for 11/2 years didn't.
"This is an injustice, what they are doing," she said. "Why don't they look for real criminals? An American would never repair a pallet for 25 cents. They would rather be unemployed."


At 2:54 PM, Blogger Michael Wright, SAYDs Treasurer said...

I'm interested in seeing how well this plays with business-owners, who tend to vote Repugnican... Will they decide that the republican immigration reform plans don't really serve their interests and start voting for us?

The flip-side of it is that illegals are being hired because they can be exploited. Is the Democratic Party going to stand for the defense of continued worker exploitation?

4437 is a draconian cheap fix for one of the most fundamental problems in this world - global inequality. Until that problem is solved, there will always be migration pressures. Of course, that problem is, realistically unsolvable.


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