2006 April 20 Thursday
Government To Go After Employers Of Illegals?

The government lies so much about its intent to crack down on illegals that it is hard to take this seriously.

The government plans to crack down ever harder on employers who harbor and hire illegal immigrants, pursuing companies that ignore the law so they can exploit cheap labor.

"We are going to move beyond the current level of activity to a higher level in each month and year to come," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday. He pledged to "come down as hard as possible" on violators.

Has something changed? The trend in recent years has been toward weaker and weaker enforcement.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), enacted in 1986, requires employers to verify that prospective employees are either US citizens or authorized to work here. But rather than mandate a national identity card - because of privacy reasons - the legislation gives employers wide latitude in determining eligibility. Workers can offer employers at least 25 different documents to prove they are authorized to work in the US.

"The law has been so difficult to enforce that the number of cases brought against employers is about half what it was a decade ago even though the number of unauthorized workers has roughly doubled in that time," a Pew Research Center report concluded last month.

In 2004 3 whole employers were fined for hiring illegal aliens.

Sanctions against violators have dropped steeply, with the feds notifying only three employers of fines in 2004. And hardly anyone's walking the worksite police beat - just 65 federal agents were assigned to worksites in 2004. Considering the roughly 7 million illegal aliens working in the US, that effort isn't laughable, it's a crying shame - and a taint on employers who play this game.

But federal agents just arrested managers of IFCO Systems on criminal charges for hiring large numbers of illegals.

In the IFCO Systems case, federal agents apprehended 1,187 workers on immigration charges in raids on more than 40 plants Wednesday. Seven current and former IFCO Systems managers were arrested on criminal charges, accused of conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants.

Is the IFCO case an aberration or a turn back toward real enforcement?

Fines against employers, which hit $3.7 million in fiscal 1999, dropped to $212,322 in fiscal 2003, the Congressional Research Service reported.

And the Bush administration in fiscal 2004 filed only three notices of intent to fine employers for hiring illegal workers, down from 417 such cases in fiscal 1999, according to the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The Bush Administration is feeling heat from popular radio talk shows, Fox News talking heads, and a rising fraction of the Republican base on immigration. Will their response extend beyond tokenism? Too early to tell. My guess is we have to get a lot madder before they make substantial changes.

Chertoff can ask for the money to increase enforcement but that doesn't mean he'll get it.

To implement the work-site enforcement strategy, the department has requested $41 million in funds and 200 more U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) agents for fiscal 2007, which will increase to about 525 the number of ICE agents assigned to track down more than 11 million illegal aliens now in the United States.

They ought to increase staffing to many thousands of agents in order to create a credible threat to employers. Once employers get scared out of employing illegals it will cost less to maintain credible deterrence. But the cost of getting a handle on such a large problem will be higher initially.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 20 10:35 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement

John S Bolton said at April 21, 2006 2:31 AM:

It could be that there will be a flurry of enforcement up til election day; but one might suspect, in that case, that assurances have been whispered to contributors, that it is temporary.

John A Shaffer said at April 21, 2006 4:45 AM:

Anyone else find it odd that a German company was raided? I wonder who will take over the pallet market now?

D Flinchum said at April 21, 2006 6:23 AM:


Every year, the IRS sends out letters to companies which have sent in records where the SS#'s appear invalid. Many - probably most - are simple data entry errors and are easily resolved.

This from a CNN story:

Federal authorities checked a sample of 5,800 IFCO employee records last year and found that 53 percent had faulty Social Security numbers, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said.

"That is, they were using Social Security numbers of people that were dead, of children or just different individuals that did not work at IFCO," ICE chief Julie Myers told CNN.

"The Social Security Administration had written IFCO over 13 times and told them, 'Listen, You have a problem. You have over a thousand employees that have faulty Social Security numbers. And we consider that to be a big problem,'" said Myers. "And IFCO did not do anything about it."

This little drama is simply to convince the US citizens that DHS is on the job. It will cease as soon as the law bestowing amnesty is signed.

noone said at April 21, 2006 6:16 PM:

Yep,it's a publicity stunt.

Ray said at April 21, 2006 11:48 PM:

Why is it the responsibility of private citizens to enforce immigration laws that the government has all but refused to enforce? It is perfectly reasonable to require an employer to ask for various forms of commonly accepted ID, but putting on them the onus for weeding out anyone who might be illegal creates a number of problems. Namely of which, it increases the cost of doing business, costs that are not easily passed on, and it sets up employers to discriminate so that any Hispanic applicant is automatically under more scrutiny than non-Hispanics.

If they cannot prove that IFCO was purposely seeking out, and abeting illegal workers, I don't see the case against them.

Katie's Dad said at April 22, 2006 11:43 AM:
"Why is it the responsibility of private citizens to enforce immigration laws that the government has all but refused to enforce?"

In a federal republican democracy, The People are the government; that is, the government exists by the consent of the governed. Therefore, there exists a social contract between the government and The People. The enactment of laws, and the enforcement of them, are a mutual affair. On our behalf, government can compel businesses to perform acts in the public interest, such as withholding taxes, adhering to certain manufacturing standards and maintaining safe workplaces. Just because a law is not being strictly followed, no person is absolved from responsibility to follow it. That's why.

"It is perfectly reasonable to require an employer to ask for various forms of commonly accepted ID, but putting on them the onus for weeding out anyone who might be illegal creates a number of problems."
What some consider to be "problems," are part of the extended cost of being part of our social contract.
"Namely of which, it increases the cost of doing business, costs that are not easily passed on, and it sets up employers to discriminate so that any Hispanic applicant is automatically under more scrutiny than non-Hispanics."
Funny, from this middle aged white guy's perspective, it appears that because of affirmative action and diversity rules, I'm under a lot of unnecessary scrutiny. I would add that your "any Hispanic applicant" concept is nonsequitur. Any Hispanic candidate who speaks fluent, unaccented english would not likely be any more scrutinized than the "average" applicant. Affirmative Action mandates that people be treated differently based upon their ethnicity and other social characteristics, but I would bet that you don't have a problem with that.

As far as "costs not being easily passed-on," merely living in a first-world nation creates cost pass-ons that are problematic if we consider the juxtaposition of living standards experienced by most of our global competitors.

Jorge D.C. said at April 22, 2006 5:40 PM:

Re: CNN...

Lou Dobbs has done more than any single person in America to shed light on the border chaos.

Anyone else notice that the 10pm Lou Dobbs Tonight rerun of the 6pm eastern time show has been taken off the air at CNN? That rerun had him on during primetime on the west coast and mountain states. But now the folks in the southwest (mountain and pacific zones) can only see him at 3pm or 4pm and 12am or 1am local time.

I guess there's a chance he wasn't getting ratings in those areas. But as far as I've read Lou Dobbs Tonight is the only show in the CNN lineup that is gaining viewers. Big surprise that the populist gentile gets ratings while the left wingers Blitzer/Zahn/Cooper struggle.

Could it be anymore obvious that TV news networks are only interested in ratings as a secondary concern? The primary concern everywhere except neocon FOX is that the left wing slant is maintained.

Under conglomerate ownership of the networks each president of the news division can apparently get away with low ratings - as opposed to the entertainment division. The news is a corrupt loss leader for the network serving the indispensable function of hiding from viewers key facts about the state of the world.

I think it was on 60 Minutes when Jack Welch admitted that as CEO of General Electric (which owns NBC and of course NBC News) that he didn't exercise any control over the "news guys".

I'll take the cynical view and say the CNN schedule reshuffling is a compromise reached in response to extreme pressure from liberals and corporatists to shut Dobbs up.

Ned said at April 23, 2006 11:13 AM:

Don't hold your breat waiting for this one. From Edwin S. Rubenstein:

Employer Sanctions Collapse Even Further in 2004
Table 1:
Employer Investigation Efforts of

U.S. Immigration Authorities, 1992-2004

Agent Work-years Spent on:

Fiscal Year
Worksite Arrests
Notices of Intent to Fine
Worksite Enforcement
Other Investigative Areas














2005 (7 months)

Sources: GAO, "Immigration Enforcement: Weaknesses Hinder Employment Verification and Worksite Enforcement Efforts," August 2005. Figures 3, 4, and 5. (1999-2004.)

Dept. of Homeland Security, 2003 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, September 2004. Table 39. (1997-1998)

Dept. of Homeland Security, 2001 Statistical Yearbook, Table 61. (1992-1996)

Sorry for the jumbled format, but the first column under each year is Worksite Arrests, the second is Notices of Intent to Fine, etc. See a trend?

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