Today the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees and International Law will hold a hearing on the government’s handling of immigration raids and criminalization of immigrant workers. Below is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.
“Chairman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and the members of the House Immigration Subcommittee are to be commended for taking a serious look at the Bush Administration’s handling of immigration raids, and its strategy of prosecuting immigrant workers as criminals while treating abusive employers with kid gloves. While the raid on Agriprocessors brought horrific tales of worker abuse to light, the company still has not been held accountable, while the plant’s workers, their families, and the larger community have been devastated. This hearing will expose the human cost of the federal government’s enforcement strategies, the infectiveness of our current immigration policies, and the need for common-sense immigration reform.
“In a recent Washington Post story, Stewart Baker of the Department of Homeland Security blamed the Administration’s lopsided enforcement strategy on Congress: ‘Why are employers not punished more often? Because the laws we have don’t really authorize that,’ (“In Immigrant Cases, Employers Feel the Pressure,” Spencer Hsu, July 21, 2008). But in 2007 the Administration fined only 17 companies for breaking immigration laws, and only 2% of ICE’s criminal immigration arrests were of managers or employers while over 98% were of workers. Moreover, the Administration has made labor law enforcement an afterthought rather than a priority, and the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security can’t even get their stories straight about whether they ‘coordinated’ on the Postville raid or not.
“Clearly, the Administration’s strategy is to target the little guy-the immigrant worker-and let the big guy off the hook. This may pay in big headlines, but it is certainly not an effective policy approach. The real solution is tough, consistent enforcement against unscrupulous employers and a program that requires undocumented workers to come of the shadows and apply for legal status.
“I applaud the Subcommittee for holding this hearing today, and encourage Congress to continue to hold the Bush Administration and abusive employers accountable for their roles in perpetuating our broken immigration system. In addition to strong oversight of the Bush Administration, Congress must also enact a tough, fair, and practical immigration reform law that will restore control and order to our immigration system and protect all workers.”