2004 November 02 Tuesday
Immigration Law Enforcement In Interior Is Still Meager

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rarely goes after employers for hiring illegal aliens.

Q. When was the last time an employer in the Phoenix area was fined for hiring undocumented immigrants?

A. The last significant fine was in the summer of 2001. It involved a company that was in fact knowingly employing unauthorized workers. That fine was ultimately paid in the summer of 2001, about $125,000.

Q. Have any employers of undocumented immigrants been fined since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks?

A. Not in Phoenix, and one of the chief reasons for that is because we've shifted our focus to deal with businesses of national interests, such as the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant and Sky Harbor Airport. In our most recent case, we arrested nine undocumented workers at one of Boeing's defense locations in Phoenix, and we are conducting other similar investigations. . . . We haven't found that any of them have been involved in knowing or willful violations.

The necessary focus on the threat of terrorists has shifted limited resources away from the capture of common place illegal aliens.

Even targetting of illegals with criminal records does not go uncriticised by illegal immigrant "rights" activists. Mexican illegal alien Rodrigo Perez Sanchez has been arrested as part of an effort to target illegal aliens who have deportation orders pending against them. Even efforts to arrest the worst behaving illegals brings charges by Hispanic groups of unfair targetting by the government.

Since then, he's worked hard, acquired a house and a few thousand dollars in savings. He's also acquired a long criminal rap sheet, including convictions for first-degree rape, felony assault and two instances of DUI.


Since June, arrests of illegal immigrants such as Perez Sanchez around Washington have fueled rumors of wholesale dragnets in which ICE officers indiscriminately arrest any Latino lacking proper papers. But high-level ICE officials say they have neither the interest nor the resources to conduct "sweeps" targeting otherwise law-abiding, undocumented immigrants.

"We never, ever pull anyone over just because we think they might be illegal," said Blake Brown, supervisor of a six-person Detention and Removal squad that covers Washington, Oregon and Alaska. "Our interest is in arresting fugitives."

Note that Perez Sanchez has managed to spend enough time in the United States to commit and be arrested for a whole string of crimes. Amazingly, this time around he is going to be charged with a crime simply for being here illegally. That happens to be a crime. But it is a crime which is rarely prosecuted. An effective way to deter illegals would be to start prosecuting them after they have been caught illegally entering the United States, say, 3 times.

ICE doesn't have enough resources to do sweeps and to go after potential terrorists and to try to catch illegal aliens who have also broken other laws.

Currently in Oklahoma (and many other states as well) when local police accidentally come across large groups of illegals (for example, when pulling over vans - click through on this link) the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tells the police to let them go because ICE doesn't have enough agents or jail space to go around and collect the illegals and process them for deportation. A group of House Republicans would like to provide more resources for border and interior immigration enforcement.

Led by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.), House Republicans put strong immigration-enforcement provisions in the House version of this bill. These include:

  • Doubling the Border Patrol from 10,000 to 20,000 agents.
  • Tripling the number of ICE investigations officers, who enforce immigration laws in the interior of the country, from 2,000 to 6,000.
  • Mandating that one-half of the new ICE investigations officers be assigned to enforcing immigration laws in the workplace.
  • Guaranteeing that each state gets at least three new ICE officers.
  • Increasing the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to quickly deport illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico rather than release them into the United States pending protracted immigration-court proceedings.
  • Some of the provisions for better immigration enforcement in H.R. 10 mentioned above are opposed by President Bush. See my previous post Bush Opposes 9/11 Commission Border Control Recommendations for the details.

    Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 02 05:13 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement

    Brock said at November 2, 2004 9:36 PM:

    Randall -

    I know you've posted on many ways we could increase border security. I've read most of it (I saw most because I may have missed something). Have you addressed the economic consequences of reducing the efficiency of the borders by even small amounts? Since NAFTA the amount of trade with Mexixo has skyrocketed. The integration of our economies has gone up drastically. Competiton with China has forced Mexico to move up the production chain to higher value products. It's not cheap crap and corn anymore. Mexican immigrants working here in the USA have found some of their "american" jobs sent to Mexico. Even a 10% reduction in the traffic at the border would have a non-linear affect on economic activity in the USA.

    Ideally what I would like to see leveraging of IT to increase the effectiveness of border security, but I don't see that happening. Not only is Government's ability to keep up with the private sector a regularly recurring joke, but privacy advocates would fly off the handle if we used big, scary things like "databases" and "biometric scanners." If we could track border-crossers as easily as Amazon tracks your book purchases we could both enforce the laws on the books and maintain a high degree of economic integration.

    Of course, I like to live in the real world (as you say you do as well). The Gov't will not be leveraging IT any time soon. It will remain inefficient. That being said, I return to my question: Have you addressed that? What do you see as the consequences of enforcing the laws on the books without an increase in border securitty efficiency? Are you prepared to accept the consequences? I know you believe (with reason) that individual immigrants cost us $X per capita, but what do we gain in return for NAFTA integration? I'm not sure how easily that could be measured.

    noone said at November 3, 2004 4:49 AM:

    "Have you addressed the economic consequences of reducing the efficiency of the borders by even small amounts?"

    How much is a citizens life worth?
    How much to re-build a major city after a terrorist nuke?
    Does our trade with Mexico exceed current and projected costs of millions of net tax consumers and their children?
    How much has your medical and auto insurance rates gone up?
    How much have your local property taxes increased to pay for education of illegals?
    Take the cost of all the entitlement programs currently accessed by them and multiply that cost as their populations increase and politicians try buy their votes.
    Beyond that,whats the cost of our insitutions ,even the concept of the rule of law,losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public?

    Suddenly that 3 cent decrease in the cost of a pound of tomatos doesn't seem so nifty does it?

    crush41 said at November 3, 2004 10:25 AM:

    Not to mention drastically cutting narcotics flow into the U.S., potentially saving the $20 billion that is burnt each year ineffectively fighting the drug war (in addition to the productivity loss of the inmate population that is incarcerated for marijuana-related charges.)

    Kris Kobach (R), 3rd district of Kansas running for the House seat, lost last night on a campaign centered around drastic border-control changes. Specifically, advocating the utilization of the border patrol in militarizing both borders, thereby stopping the flow of illegals and their baggage. Much of the work performed by illegals could be picked up at similar cost by prison systems that would operate on a token economy (ie physical labor to exchange for shorter sentences, prison provisions, etc.)

    Despite being the more charismatic, healthier, more attractive candidate, and winning all three debates against Dennis Moore (D), Kobach lost by 8% in a Republican-leaning district. The country is so far from seriously addressing this issue. Unfortunately, it will take a catastrophic attack that is traced back to the border to make it happen.

    Brock said at November 3, 2004 2:32 PM:

    Ok, fine, whatever. This place is an echo-chamber, except for me and Fly.

    John S Bolton said at November 3, 2004 8:39 PM:

    Lack of interior immigration law enforcement results also in negative shifts in the terms of trade, as the American economy fails to specialize more in higher-productivity types of output. We lose comparative advantage benefits with all those other countries which send goods by ship, as the continued availability of unending quantities of minimum wage illegal labor, retains the methods of production that we were starting to move beyond. If any comparative advantage gain with one country can accrue, the loss of a comparative advantage boost from trade with all the other countries, by suppression of wage increases, would have to be vastly greater in magnitude.

    stephanie alfaro said at December 18, 2004 5:40 PM:

    I dont get it. My parents came here illegally okay but they did what they had to do to get papers-meaning obeying the law, paying taxes, and not collecting government benefits. Why cant these people. My parents left Chile when Allende went into power because our family was one of the first on the list to die for opposing communism. However, thanks to Augusoto Pinochet, Chile is now no longer under that threat. My father thought this was the greatest country on the earth and totally agreed with the americans that mexican immigrants should learn english. We also tried to assure our fellow americans who embraced us completely that not all latin americans were like mexicans. My father even offered to pay his mexican employees(mules as he called them due to the fact that they did not even try to integrate into u.s. culture) more money if they went to english classes and learned how to communicate with american co-workers instead of depending on my father. He tried everything-giving them audio tapes, offering to pay for classes, etc. They didn't even listen to the tapes. Instead, cranked their stereos with that revolting ranchero and tejano music. I get tired of hearing that these mexicans cant learn english due to illiteracy when a nice guy like my father gives them audio tapes to listen to and hopefully learn from. My mother and father came here to better themselves and to give us a good life. My mother always hated the excuse mexicans used of coming here to support their families. Well, they should not be making children, mom would say, if they are unable to support them. My mother also said that she and papa would have never have put me in some of the idiotic dangereous situations that these people put their children in when crossing the border. My parents also never used me to interpret for them.

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