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Medina: DHS Enforcement Rings Hollow, Real Reform Needed

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Today Services Employees International Union (SEIU) sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security citing concerns regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration enforcement tactics — particularly DHS’ decision to audit I-9 applications of 1,000 employers – a plan that lets irresponsible employers off the hook while hurting employees.

Executive Vice President of SEIU, Eliseo Medina, has a few choice words for DHS on the “I-9 audits:”

DHS’ plan to audit 1,000 new employers may sound tough—but the words ring hollow because the plan is not smart, targeted or effective.  Based on its previous announcements, we had expected DHS to target egregious employers and criminals who break labor laws, but instead these seemingly arbitrary audits actually benefit abusive, off-the-books employers who push down wages and working conditions for all workers. The resulting churning of the workforce is harmful to local economies and communities. It is demoralizing to the workforce that remains in the affected workplaces, but gets us no closer to fixing our broken immigration system…America deserves an enforcement program with real teeth that punishes the most abusive employers—not the hard-working immigrants they exploit.

One thing is certain: when immigrants are forced to work outside the system in a shadow economy, everyone loses. Unscrupulous employers can cheat the system and abuse workers without penalty. Reports show that under the Bush Administration, these kinds of employers were not penalized for exploitation – it’s high time for the new Administration to change course and restore justice to immigration enforcement.