Friday, July 3, 2009

Audits: A Friendlier Face on the Same Old

An article in the Arizona Republic yesterday, called ICE audits 32 Arizona companies over hiring describes a new approach to the immigration "problem".
Federal immigration-enforcement agents notified 32 Arizona companies on Wednesday that their employment records are being audited to determine whether they are complying with laws aimed at preventing the hiring of illegal workers.

The Arizona companies are among 652 businesses nationwide that are being audited as part of a new push by the Obama administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to clamp down on employers who hire illegal workers.

Of course this is friendlier than raids, but it will accomplish nearly the same thing. Those is power would have you believe that enforcement of this type is intended to keep employers accountable. What is really happening is that it will have the largest effects on the employees. Supposing that no arrests of workers are going to result from these audits (which we can't assume), it will be increasingly difficult for immigrants to find work.
In Arizona, federal agents also could refer cases to local authorities to enforce the state's employer-sanctions law, which could result in the suspension or revocation of businesses licenses of employers caught knowingly hiring illegal workers.

Since the sanctions law took effect in 2008, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has raided 21 businesses, resulting in the arrests of 262 illegal immigrants, mostly for identity theft. There have been no complaints lodged against an employer.

As you can see, the employer sanctions law has not even been used directly against any employers, but has instead resulted in raids at work sites, and the detention and arrest of workers, including some who were not undocumented.

Guess who was behind this law. Russell Pearce. And certainly we know that this was his intention all along. In fact, he created confusion in which, leading up to the enactment of the law on January 1, 2008, no one knew if people who were already employed with a company were subject to the law, or if only people hired after that date would be subject to the law. This resulted in several people being fired even before the law went into effect.

It will be interesting to see if the friendlier approach will effect 287(g), the agreement that allows the police to enforce federal immigration law.

The more reasonable façade put on the federal immigration enforcement is also seen in the newer focus on "criminal aliens" which would seem to target mainly dangerous undocumented immigrants for removal, but in fact would catch many others up in it.

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