Worksite Enforcement: Bad Employers Get a Free Pass
While the Bush Administration claims to have gotten “tough” on employers who exploit workers and break the law, the facts tell a much different story. While immigrant workers are denied their day in court, employers with egregious histories of breaking labor laws are being let off the hook.
- 98% of Worksite Arrests are of Worker, Not Employer: Since its inception in 2003, ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy has been to target the undocumented worker rather than his or her employer. Although ICE’s overall workforce arrest totals increased from 510 in FY 2002 to 4,940 in FY 2007, the vast majority of these arrests were of workers. In 2007, ICE logged 4,077 administrative arrests. Only 92 of ICE’s 863 criminal arrests involved employers. Taken together, this means that immigrant workers and not employers accounted for 89% of the criminal arrests and 98% of all immigration arrests in the workplace in 2007.
According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, this trend has continued throughout 2008. Since October 2007, ICE has made 3,750 workplace arrests, of which only 75 were business owners, supervisors, or human resources workers. Once again, this means that 98% of the arrests have been of workers instead of their employers.
- Employer Fines Remain Scarce – Especially Compared to the 1990s: Employer fines for hiring illegal labor have plummeted under Bush. In 1999, 417 employers received notices of the Department’s intent to fine them for employing illegal aliens – a number that dropped to three by 2004 and was only 17 in 2007. Compared to the high-water marks of the 1990s, this is a precipitous drop of over 99%.