Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The double bind of employer enforcement

An employer "clampdown" on the hiring of undocumented immigrants in some ways is very logical - people won't come to the U.S. if there are no jobs to come to. Yet, what happens to the people that are already here? Since the loud voices that influence national politics have ordered there will be no "amnesty," millions will lose there jobs, some unfairly because of inaccuracies in the social security system. Companies will be without workers and the economy could collapse (really). Sounds like a dire prediction -

As has been mentioned many times, how many 2rd and 3rd generation Americans would want to work at a meat packing plant. If you really think there would be crowds waiting to be hired you need to visit a plant today and see how many employees are missing fingers and part of their hands.

The problem is so global. A law that regulates employment of citizens and authorized residents is only a fraction of the problem. Considering the state of the world, globalization is currently something we can't stop - as is immigration.
Posted on Wed, Dec. 26, 2007
Bosses elude worker crackdown
Miami Herald

In its announced clampdown on companies that hire illegal workers, the federal government has arrested in the last year nearly four times the number of people that it did two years ago, but only 2 percent of those arrests involved criminal charges against those who hired the workers, according to a year-end tally prepared by the Department of Homeland Security.
Fewer than 100 owners, supervisors or hiring officials were arrested in fiscal 2007, compared with nearly 4,900 arrests that involved illegal workers, providers of fake documents and others, the figures show. Immigration experts say the data illustrates the Bush administration's limited success at delivering on its rhetoric about stopping illegal hiring by corporate employers.

''Why is it that hundreds of bar owners can be sanctioned in Missouri every year for letting somebody with a fake ID have a beer, but we can't manage to sanction hundreds of employers for letting people use fake identities to obtain a job?'' said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a former state prosecutor and member of the Senate homeland security committee.


Democratic political consultants have advised the party's lawmakers -- who already are on the defensive about immigration policy -- that the Bush administration's failure to more aggressively target powerful corporations may be a vulnerability for Republican Party candidates who are seeking to make immigration a campaign issue.

Bush administration officials have promised to strike at the job ''magnet'' luring illegal immigrants into the country, a goal supported by experts across the political spectrum. ''The days of treating employers who violate these laws by giving them the equivalent of a corporate parking ticket -- those days are gone. It's now felonies, jail time, fines and forfeitures,'' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a Nov. 6 news conference.

In a year-end review this month, Chertoff added that an enforcement crackdown will ''make a down payment on credibility with the American people,'' whose ''profound public skepticism'' about government efforts to control illegal immigration helped kill a broad, White House-backed overhaul in the Senate this summer.

But even though DHS has ratcheted up its enforcement effort, this year's 92 criminal arrests of employers still amount to a drop in the bucket of a national economy that includes 6 million companies that employ more than 7 million unauthorized workers, several analysts said. Only 17 firms faced criminal fines or other forfeitures this year.


In one October case, Richard Rosenbaum, the former president of Rosenbaum-Cunningham International, a Florida-based nationwide cleaning service, pleaded guilty to harboring illegal immigrants and conspiracy to defraud the government, agreeing to pay more than $17 million in restitution and forfeitures.

For decades, political opposition by the businesses that rely on such workers has helped water down the laws and other tools needed for a more sustained effort.

Late in the Clinton administration and early in the current administration, the number of illegal immigrants arrested in worksite cases fell -- from 2,849 in 1999 to a low of 445 in 2003 -- but there has since been a rebound. The number of criminal cases brought against employers fell from 182 to four over that time. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, ICE reported the 92 criminal arrests including 59 owners and 33 corporate officials, human resources workers, crew chiefs and others in the ``supervisory chain.''

Of the remaining 863 criminal arrests, nearly 9 in 10 involved workers and other people accused of identity theft or document fraud, money laundering, providing transportation or documentation to illegal workers, or other crimes. Criminal fines and other payments grew from $600,000 in 2003 to more than $30 million in 2007, but they were dominated by a few large payers.

ICE Director Julie Myers, who served as chief of staff to Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003, wrote in response to McCaskill's criticism last fall that it takes time to build criminal cases, and that DHS' tougher, criminal enforcement approach is ''fundamentally different'' than the weak administrative fines and pin-prick raids that resulted from a congressional backlash against actions against corporations in the late 1990s.

McCaskill called such arguments an excuse for not punishing big-money business and farm interests who want cheap labor, effectively penalizing law-abiding business owners and exploiting illegal immigrant workers.

''The reality simply doesn't match their rhetoric,'' McCaskill said , who began pressing ICE to release the employer statistics in September.

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