Working Both Sides
Thanks to an increase in this year's budget, immigration agents expect to conduct more door-to-door searches for wanted illegal immigrants, such as this month's sweep in Willmar. And they foresee more workplace raids, such as last year's operation at a Worthington meatpacking plant.
"You'll definitely see more large-scale [employer] operations," said Claude Arnold, who heads investigations at the regional office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"It's one of our priorities," he said. "We got money and resources for worksite enforcement -- and we will get more." ...
That means searching for and arresting illegal immigrants, in particular those with criminal convictions and orders for deportations; combatting identity fraud; busting employers, and investigating transnational gangs.
The approach hasn't been welcomed by everyone. Immigrant advocates said the ICE searches of immigrant homes in Willmar this month traumatized all immigrants, legal and illegal. In a lawsuit filed in federal court recently, residents charged that ICE agents entered homes without warrants.
While it's hard to fault the ICE's push to arrest those with criminal convictions and deportation orders, the means allegedly used are suspect, albeit only too familiar these days. Warrantless searches? A mere technicality.
"Busting employers," on the other hand, does sound intriguing. Here's what Mr. Arnold is contemplating:
Arnold said he intends to crank up employer arrests, too. The fines faced by employers who hired illegal workers have not been a deterrent, he admitted. But "when you see an executive wearing handcuffs," it can have an impact, he said.
The statistics cited in the article, however, suggests that the employer phase hasn't actually started:
The regional ICE office deported 1,427 people from October 2006 to March 2007. That compares with 3,015 in fiscal 2006. It also made 1,846 arrests of immigration violators who weren't criminals from October 2006 until this month. That compares with 2,702 in fiscal 2006.
Isn't it odd how there's no mention of employer arrests in those numbers? I suppose the arrest of illegal immigrants who weren't criminals is supposed to make up for that.