Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fewer Raids, but Still a Mess - U.S. Immigration Policy

May 3, 2009
New York Times
A Shift on Immigration

Last week, immigration enforcement policy shifted a little. The administration issued guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement that place a new emphasis on prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

That is a good idea, and a break from the Bush administration method — mass raids to net immigrant workers while leaving their bosses alone. The raids were tuned to the theatrics of the poisoned immigration debate, using heavy weapons, dogs and helicopters to spread the illusion that something was getting fixed.

But as policy, they were worse than useless. They netted about 6,000 undocumented immigrants, out of 12 million, and 135 employers or supervisors. They destroyed families, tearing parents and grandparents from children, many of them citizens. The fear they caused went viral in immigrant communities, driving workers further into the arms of abusive employers while bringing us no closer to a working immigration system.

So the new guidelines are smarter than cruel idiocy, but raids are still not a solution. They keep the country trying to arrest, prosecute and deport its way toward a working immigration system. Enforcement alone will never get us there. Workplace raids, no matter how sensibly or tactfully redesigned, will never fix immigration by themselves. Indeed, they make things worse.

Raids do not uphold or reinforce workers’ rights, a non sequitur in the world of off-the-books labor, where employers erode conditions for Americans by hiring workers at deplorable conditions and pay. They do not fix long backlogs in legal immigration, lines that extend years or decades, forcing people who want to follow the rules to make an agonizing choice between intolerable separations from their families or lawbreaking.

They do not protect illegal immigrants from the arbitrary cruelties of the detention and deportation system, in which due process is limited and detainees face unacceptable risk of sickness, injury and death in prison.

And the new enforcement regime, like the old, might lead employers to purge their payrolls of people they merely suspect are here illegally, to avoid the hassle and expense of a raid. When raids are coupled with electronic hiring-verification schemes like E-Verify, which the government has been inching toward, the likelihood of mass firings becomes greater. Without a path to earned legalization, undocumented workers who lose their jobs will have nowhere to go — except to endure ever-lower wages and worse abuse from bottom-feeding employers. The cycle of illegality will not have been broken.

The administration has promised to tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year. President Obama has consistently said the right things, defending a path to assimilation and citizenship for illegal immigrants rather than the futility of mass expulsion.

The decision to adjust the policy on raids seems sensibly motivated. But we agree with immigration and labor experts like Professor Jennifer Gordon of Fordham Law School, who sees the new guidelines as a smarter version of a bad idea. Far better, she says, for the government to redouble enforcement of laws like the minimum wage, the right to organize, and health and safety protections. This would reduce the incentive to hire the undocumented, and raise standards for all workers. It would not end up devastating immigrant families, as raids do. In times like these, that would be a step toward immigration reform that all workers could support. link

1 comment:

Vicente Duque said...

Small Victories are better than Big Victories

This is wonderful ( Fewer Raids ) and I am glad of every small victory for the U. S. Latinos.

Those small victories and progresses are the best and less risky. Like your "Dream Act Texas"

Your site is extremely important for the Future, Marie-Theresa


Rahm Emanuel and Obama worry about losing Democrat Seats in congress and the costs of a vote for immigration reform.

Real Clear Politics
By E.J. Dionne
May 4, 2009

Buying Time on Immigration

Some excerpts :

Yet Emanuel and Obama know that most of those same Democrats still represent competitive seats and continue to worry about the costs of a vote for immigration reform. That's why the administration has settled on a strategy of slowly building consensus rather than moving fast.

Hispanic Democrats have sent a strong signal to the business lobbies. They are saying that until comprehensive reform passes, they will withhold their votes for temporary fixes to raise immigration ceilings for groups of workers sought by particular industries. They hope to pressure business to pressure Republicans to toss more votes immigration reform's way.

The success of immigration reformers will ultimately depend upon winning over those in the ambivalent middle and not treating them as either xenophobes or racists.

The core argument for reform must be that the presence of so many illegal migrants without any enforceable rights undermines the rights of everyone else. The real message that a path to citizenship will send is that all long-term residents of our country should be able to assume their responsibilities as Americans.

Moving us in that direction is not about doing favors for illegal immigrants. It's about strengthening the American community. Obama needs to use the time he is buying himself to make that case.


I am persuaded of the Great Intelligence, Kindness and Nobility of these two men Obama and Emanuel.

So you see the problem. I am for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but things are dangerous and could derail the USA, something bigger than Latinos.

Obama should not open the Pandora's Box of Immigration, not yet.

It could increase the hate against Latinos and against Obama and the Democrats.

Vicente Duque