Immigrant Crackdown Falls Short
Despite Tough Rhetoric, Few Employers of Illegal Workers Face Criminal Charges
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 25, 2007; A03
In its announced clampdown on companies that hire illegal workers, the federal government has arrested nearly four times as many people in the past year as it did two years ago, but only a tiny fraction of those arrests involved criminal charges against those who hired the workers, according to a year-end tally prepared by the Department of Homeland Security.
Fewer than 100 owners, supervisors or hiring officials were arrested in fiscal 2007, compared with nearly 4,900 arrests that involved illegal workers, providers of fake documents and others, the figures show. Immigration experts say the data illustrate the Bush administration’s limited success at delivering on its rhetoric about stopping illegal hiring by corporate employers.
“I know what it takes to get a criminal case,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a former state prosecutor and member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “. . . Why is it that hundreds of bar owners can be sanctioned in Missouri every year for letting somebody with a fake ID have a beer, but we can’t manage to sanction hundreds of employers for letting people use fake identities to obtain a job?”
Lemme ‘splain it to ya, Claire: Other than some of the more wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, Americans don’t believe in locking up those who come here to do backbreaking work for less than minimum wage.
This is a country that generally takes the view of paternalism toward the have-nots of the world, believing that
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
actually still means something.
Even Tom Tancredo, the most wild eyed of the bunch finally had to fold his tent and scurry for cover, although it would have perhaps been a service to the nation if Tom’s grandparents hadn’t emigrated from Italy.
Sure, ’emigration’ is not ‘slipping under the fence,’ but when you have an increasingly rich nation bordering an increasingly poor nation, that’s the name of survival. Tancredo’s ‘now that I’m here, shut off the rest’ smacks of that special ‘gated community’ thinking that follows on the heels of hard times.