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It looks like the White House may really have taken advice to get tough on employers for immigration fraud seriously. The New York Times reports that Homeland Security has opted for full-bore prosecution lately rather than administrative fines:
Immigration agents had prepared a nasty surprise for the Garcia Labor Company, a temporary worker contractor, when they moved against it on charges of hiring illegal immigrants. They brought a 40-count federal indictment, part of a new nationwide strategy by immigration officials to clamp down on employers of illegal immigrant laborers.
Maximino Garcia, the president of the company, which provides low-wage laborers to businesses from Pennsylvania to Texas, stood before a federal judge here on Tuesday to answer conspiracy charges of aiding illegal immigrants and money laundering. If convicted, Mr. Garcia, who pleaded not guilty, could serve 20 years in jail and forfeit his headquarters building and $12 million.
The criminal charges against Mr. Garcia and his company were brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The campaign has included at least five other federal indictments of business executives in Ohio and Kentucky and has sent payroll managers rushing to re-examine their workers’ papers and rethink plans for their work force. ...
Until recently, the worst that Mr. Garcia, 43, might have expected from the immigration authorities was a civil fine and the deportation of some illegal workers. In April, with President Bush under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who accused him of being lax on employers of illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the new campaign. It focuses on those suspected of violations with felony charges that could lead to huge financial penalties and the seizing of assets.
The Times includes the statement that the DHS has created a "climate of fear" among immigrant communities, complete with a quote from a Catholic nun. The second half of the article describes the economic impact of enforcement on immigrant communities. The "fright" of enforcement nearly killed one undocumented worker who got missed in a roundup in his neighborhood, ironically because he went to work that morning. Suffice it to say that the Gray Lady does not find this development promising.
However, it does lend more credibility to the Bush administration's assertions that they take enforcement seriously. In 2002, the old INS made a grand total of 25 arrests of employers, a laughable level considering the amount of employer fraud in this country. So far in 2006, ICE has made 445 such arrests and deported most of the 2700 illegals detained in the investigations. Those numbers still represent a very small portion of the overall problem, but it represents a substantial improvement and more of a commitment than seen previously.
And what, exactly, did Garcia Labor do with all of these illegal workers? They contracted them to ABX Air, a contractor of DHL. The workers sorted the freight for the delivery service, and had access to the airplanes while doing so. One might wonder how illegal immigrants get so close to commercial freight aircraft in a post-9/11 world, and why TSA wouldn't have had someone looking into the issue as well.
If the ICE and the White House continue this effort to curb the economic benefits of illegal immigration, then perhaps we can feel a little more comfortable with their desire for comprehensive reform.Sphere It View blog reactions
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