Immigrants protest increased deportation and raids

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and their supporters gathered on Oct. 23 to protest an increase in deportations and workplace raids. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more than 220,000 individuals have been deported since May 2006 compared with 131,576 deportations in 2005.

"ICE will continue to fulfill its congressional mandate to apprehend and deport those who entered our country illegally," says Nuria Prendes, an agency field officer.

This includes April arrests of 148 undocumented immigrants during a sting in Dallas; 35 undocumented immigrants in Prescott, Ariz.; and 23 undocumented immigrants in West Burlington, Iowa. None of the raids led to charges against employers, but responsibility for ensuring their employees are legal has become a growing concern for many.

President Bush has emphasized the importance of employer accountability, as well as promoted the need for a better verification system and tamper-proof identification cards. Noting that 5 percent of about 60 million workers hired by U.S. employers every year are undocumented, Randel Johnson, vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says that in the face of increased workplace raids, employers need to be more aware of who they hire.

"Although the company might not suffer any legal action or fines, losing valuable members of the work force and possibly closing down for even a short amount of time can often add up to significant financial losses, not including the less quantifiable harm, such as negative publicity," Johnson says.

In a recent survey by Discover of more than 4,000 small-business owners, 19 percent said changes to immigration laws would affect their businesses.

Date : 10/29/2007