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Administration Dismayed, Napolitano Searching for Answers, after ICE Raids Washington Worksite

by Web Team on 02/26/2009 at 5:25pm

helicopterFor those may have who missed it, yesterday marked the first workplace immigration raid of the Obama administration. While some were arguing about what kind of helicopters, assault rifles, and ankle bracelets were used on the immigrant men and women working at the factory , we were wondering, how did this happen in the first place?

As White House spokesman Nick Shapiro was quoted today:

“These raids are not a long-term solution.”

Exactly. In fact, these types of workplace mega-raids are not even a short-term solution.

They are misguided, showy, inhumane, ineffective, expensive, and too-often, deadly. They are also a remnant of the mass-deportation-style, Bush-era immigration policy that took shape in the absence of real immigration reform.

According to a piece in the Washington Times, Shapiro re-affirmed President Obama’s commitment to “Change” on Immigration and to laying the groundwork for Comprehensive Immigration Reform to happen this year:

“Secretary Napolitano is conducting a thorough review of ICE, including enforcement,” Mr. Shapiro said. “The president believes we must respect due process and our best values as we enforce the law. The real answer to our broken immigration system is to fix it. The president has said that we will start the immigration reform debate this year, and this continues to be the plan.”

That is a good start, and we are glad that Secretary Napolitano is taking the matter as seriously as she should.

In her testimony before Congress yesterday, Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, stated that “she expects ICE actions at work sites to focus on employers “who intentionally and knowingly exploit the illegal labor market.” This would be a welcome change from the Bush-era focus on rounding up immigrant workers, who are often targets of abuse, themselves, and putting them in jails where they are denied access to basic medical care.

During the same hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) questioned the tactic of workplace raids and emphasized that legal residents and American citizens are often caught in the Agency’s large-scale sweeps. She described how workers might be detained for ten or eleven hours at a time, separated from their families, and deprived of due process and fair treatment under the law. She was quoted:

“It does not seem to comport with the requirements of the law or the Constitution,” she said, asking the secretary to address that issue in her review.

Kudos to Representative Lofgren for her courage in bringing this little-known fact to light.

Advocates and lawmakers alike will wait to see what comes of the probe ordered by Secretary Napolitano. We stand ready to support the Administration in its pursuit of real immigration reform and applaud the White House in its renewed commitment to act on it this year.

In the meantime, the best way to respect our values as a nation is to move away from these types of showy, Bush-era enforcement tactics that only exacerbate our nation’s immigration crisis.

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