Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Immigration Enforcement

This is for the twenty-seven of us Americans who support neither open borders nor a wall, decriminalizing illegal immigration nor separating immigrant children from their parents.

Led by David Farenthold, The Washington Post has run several articles about President Trump's business interests, including "employment" of illegal immigrants at his golf courses.  On August 9, Farenthold and colleague David Partlow wrote

For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida....

President Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country,” said one worker, Jorge Castro, a 55-year-old immigrant from Ecuador without legal status who left the company in April after nine years. “But at his properties, he still has them.”

He speaks the truth. Although Trump claims he does not want illegal immigrants to come to the USA, he surely doesn't want them undocumented. We know that in part because

Another immigrant who worked for the Trump construction crew, Edmundo Morocho, said he was told by a Trump supervisor to buy fake identity documents on a New York street corner. He said he once hid in the woods of a Trump golf course to avoid being seen by visiting labor union officials.

In some instance(s), Donald Trump probably wants even undocumented illegal immigrants in the country. We return to three years to this month when candidate Trump maintained

that his wife will hold a news conference "over the next couple of weeks" to address reports that she violated immigration laws when she first came to the U.S.

Trump said his wife would prove that "she came in totally legally."

The New York Post last week published nude photos of Melania Trump in 1995, quickly raising questions about whether the former model had obtained the appropriate visa to work as a model in the United States.

And so later campaigning in North Carolina

Donald Trump added that he advised his wife to "let it simmer for a little while" before holding a news conference to correct the record.

"Let them go wild. Let it simmer, and then let's have a little news conference and have some fun," Trump said.

Of course there was no news conference, and both the details of Melania Trump's legal status and of the visa system remain murky.

For some people, these events are not a problem. But if you believe, as a few of us do, that the nation's immigration system should be humane while illegal immigrants should not get a free pass, you might wonder about those workplace raids, including those in which

About 680 immigrants believed to be working without legal documentation were taken away on buses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during the coordinated sting on Aug. 7. The operation, which might be the largest work site enforcement action ever in a single state, focused on plants run by five companies: Peco Foods, Pearl River Foods, Koch Foods, A & B Inc. and P H Food Inc.

The New York Times reports affidavits "filed by federal agents supporting the raids"

show that the agents believe that the companies were “willfully and unlawfully” employing undocumented immigrants.

In some cases, the affidavits say, the companies employed people who would show up to work wearing ankle monitors that are part of a federal program to make sure undocumented immigrants appear at court proceedings....

The P H Food Inc. and A & B Inc. plants are owned by the same person, according to the affidavits. A confidential informant said that a woman who prepares the payroll for both of the plants and another employee who works with payroll companies knew about the undocumented immigrants working there, the affidavits say.

One employee at the A & B Inc. plant who was in the country illegally said that the plant manager had never required him to provide any identification documents to work there and only asked for his name, an affidavit says.

The affidavits say some of the companies had access to E-Verify, but did not use it for dozens of undocumented employees. E-Verify is an electronic system that checks documents provided by newly hired workers against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to identify fakes.

In other cases, the affidavits implicate managers. For example, at the Peco Foods plant, an employee told a confidential informant that one worker presented a different name on the two occasions she was hired.

For what it's worth, the stakes for the employers are high because the maximum punishment is a $3,000 fine and six months in prison for each illegal immigrant employed.

Nonetheless (or maybe therefore), no one yet has been indicted and 

Prosecutions are not common, said Kimberley Best Robidoux, a business immigration lawyer in San Diego who specializes in compliance. According to data compiled by Syracuse Universityand released in May, only 11 people were prosecuted from April 2018 through March 2019 for employing immigrants who did not have proper documentation. No companies were prosecuted during that time, according to the data.

This was only one day of raids and immigration cases against employers are difficult to prove, The Times points out. However, these took place against seven plants and resulted in the arrest of approximately 680 immigrants. It therefore can be viewed as a test case for the US Justice Department and USA law. 

It is bad enough that approximately 680 workers, presumably in the country without authorization, were led out in handcuffs while no manager or employer was. If no one in a position of authority receives any period of incarceration, the notion of equal protection and the rule of law will have taken another hint. Moreover, the commitment to curbing illegal immigration, with the President's companies routinely profiting from the work of illegal immigrants and his wife currently and/or at one point residing in the country illegally. will become another cruel joke played on us by Donald J. Trump.

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