Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Immigration enforcement focusing on employers

Federal immigration officials in Kansas are applying severe measures to punish those who employ undocumented workers:

After an Overland Park couple were indicted, accused of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and paying them less than other employees, federal authorities said Tuesday that they would seek to seize the couple’s two hotels.

This followed a raid earlier this year which found that roughly half the employees at the two hotels were undocumented workers. The feds allege the couple paid the workers with cash and paid them less than the minimum wage, including to an undercover agent who told the couple he was an illegal alien.

According to Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, the agency would continue to go after employers for illegal hires, warning "We are going to enforce immigration laws, and we are going to enforce them equally ... we’re not going to enforce them merely on the backs of (undocumented workers).

This is part of a new approach to dealing with the illegal immigration issue by going after employers. Two years ago, the New York Times reported on the agency's new focus:

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.

It's been noted this change in strategy from numerous agents raiding a single employer site, to a single agent being able to audit files of numerous companies, is a cost-saver for the agency. However, as illegals are simply terminated, with no further action by immigration, Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) expressed concerns that under this approach “illegal aliens are allowed to walk free and seek employment elsewhere”.

The agency's shift towards a "catch and release" approach towards those suspected to be here illegally was seen in Sumter, South Carolina, where twenty-five suspected illegals working for a drywall company on a project at Shaw AFB were detained by ICE agents when found to be in possession of fake IDs (not surprising, as I've personally noted people from the same area get their false documents from the same source, meaning they'd have the same flaws upon inspection). Two who had outstanding charges in Charleston County were held, while the other twenty-three were released.  

While the current administration's fairly lax stance towards those who may be here illegally may mean those without proper documentation may be be more willing to seek employment, enforcement and penalties on the employers' end means employers should take immigration compliance more seriously.


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