Raids, A Court Decision, and Romney Acts

ICE raided meat-packing plants in six states this week, targeting Social Security fraud -- not immigration violations -- among undocumented workers. Some 1,300 people found themselves detained and bused away from the plants.

According to The Washington Post:

"In a brief teleconference with reporters, Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE, said that "the signal we're intending to send here is, 'We're serious about work site enforcement, and those individuals who steal identities of U.S. citizens will not escape action from us.' " She said the government would also pursue vendors of fake documents, former workers and legitimate residents who sold their Social Security numbers."

ICE won't target, it seems, the large corporations who hire these workers and lure people to commit ID fraud, if it continues to pursue fraud and not immigration violations. (Swift & Co., whose plants ICE raided won't be charged with anything, though it certainly lost a day of business.) This way, it can please anti-immigration camps and the big businesses who reap the benefits of undocumented workers. Only the workers lose.

An Associated Press article presents the thesis that consumers and various parts of the meat industry will suffer higher costs with elimination of cheap, immigrant labor. But a good portion of the article refutes that idea, and, indeed, claims that not much has changed in the industry from the raids -- except for the lives of the 1,300 or so people arrested.

But, again, unions have taken a stand on the side of "illegal" workers, so often accused of undermining their native-born counterparts:

"These actions today by ICE are an affront to decency," said Mark Lauritsen, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which sought an injunction in court to halt the raids and planned protests around the country. Federal agents essentially stormed plants "in an effort designed to terrorize" workers, he said. [Wash. Post]
The ACLU announced that Escondido, Ca., agreed to not enforce its new city ordinance that would ban renting apartments to undocumented immigrants -- a proposal similar to that in Hazleton, Pa. The decision comes as part of a settlement to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and other groups who argued "that the ordinance was illegal and unconstitutional on a number of grounds, including that it was preempted by federal law and violated due process and the property, fair housing and contract rights of both landlords and tenants."

It also calls into question a major issue in policing undocumented immigration: How to identify suspects without evidence already in hand? How does one identify an undocumented immigrant "in the act"? Police might pull over a driver swerving or driving too slow or too fast, observed behaviors that suggest some kind of danger to the public. But how to pull over a suspected "illegal"? What observed behavior suggests a person doesn't have papers or has overstayed a visa? Perhaps he speaks Spanish -- like millions of documented migrants and native-born U.S. citizens. Perhaps he has brown skin. Perhaps, as one local vigilante group in Calif. told it's potential members, he carries "stolen" oranges in plastic a bag for his lunch.

Undocumented immigration rarely has real witnesses (unless authorities target the purveyors of false or stolen identification) and relying on neighbors who suspect the person next door of not having papers is merely to fall prey to paranoia and xenophobia -- because the answer to how to identify an undocumented immigrant in most cases is purely by perceived ethnicity. From there stems the dangers inherent not only in locally operated immigration enforcement but in ordinances like Escondido's and Hazleton's -- and in the measure enacted by Gov. Mitt Romney (R., Mass.).

Gov. Romney, on his way out of the governor's mansion and eying the White House, "signed an agreement Wednesday that allows Massachusetts State Police troopers to detain illegal aliens they encounter over the course of their normal duties", according to The AP. The troopers, drawn from units dedicated to violent crimes, gangs, drug enforcement, and community action would receive five weeks of training by ICE before adding to their jobs new duties -- trying to bust similarly dangerous villains, like undocumented apple-pickers, nannies, and Gov. Romney's own landscapers.

As The Boston Globe reported earlier this month, the Romney family, for about ten years, has used a landscaping company "that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the grounds surrounding his pink Colonial house" and that of his son, down the street. But Romney leaves office on Jan. 4, and his Democratic successor plans to look into dismantling this new program, which now looks like little more than another politician's attempt to protect his own posterior, lunge for a higher throne, and still make no real progress on immigration.

, , , , ,, , Crime, English.


Post a Comment

<< Home