Enforcement laws against employers criticized

Although increasing enforcement on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants has resulted in more arrests and convictions, critics believe the enforcement has resulted in high costs and limited results, according to The Washington Post. High-profile raids and the sentencing of illegal immigrants still far outpace corporate enforcement efforts.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made 937 criminal arrests at U.S. workplaces, more than 10 times as many as the 72 it arrested five years ago. Of the 937 arrested this year, 99 were company supervisors compared with 93 in 2007.

Many think the immigration efforts and laws regarding employers have been largely ineffective.

"If you want law enforcement, you have to have laws that are enforceable," says Doris Meissner, who headed the former Immigration and Naturalization Service under the Clinton Administration. She says the 1986 law that bans the hiring of illegal immigrants "has just been chronically flawed from the time it was passed."

Enforcement has consisted of raids that many believe demonstrate a policy that criminalizes illegal immigration for workers but doesn't shut down the offending companies.

"There's no question this administration is coddling unscrupulous employers while arresting undocumented immigrants to make their statistics look good," says Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that promotes citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Sharry says the government has not provided effective law enforcement tools or addressed labor needs in the U.S.

"The dysfunctional immigration system really is the fault of Congress for failing to lead," he says.

Some controversial efforts with uncertain effects include employing "no-match" letters and using an E-Verify system to check workers' information against Social Security and immigration-status databases. Critics say these methods can have a high error rate.

Major immigration reform is not expected anytime soon, especially during an election year.

Date : 7/24/2008