DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids


Today the Washington Post published an article about an impending policy shift in the way the Department of Homeland Security does business. Immigration raids, which were the Bush administration’s pride and joy, are being restructured under Obama and new DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. The raids, which target workers and destroy communities, are now shifting focus.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.

A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute — increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.

“There will be a change in policy, but in the interim, you’ve got to scrutinize the cases coming up,” the senior DHS official said, noting Napolitano’s expectations as a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general.

These delays are a good sign that immigration enforcement policy will be changing. In recent weeks there have been many prominent leaders (both political and faith) calling for a change in immigration policy and an end to the destructive raids.

While a policy is still under development, Napolitano has said she intends to focus more on prosecuting criminal cases of wrongdoing by companies. Analysts say they also think ICE may conduct fewer raids, focusing routine enforcement on civil infractions of worker eligibility verification rules.

This is good news since it signals an end to scapegoating the most vulnerable while letting the powerful off the hook. However, just a shift in enforcement policy will not be enough to right the course. This must come along with comprehensive reform in order to truly begin to fix the broken system.

3 responses to “DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids

  1. Keith Raymond

    Folks, let’s stop the mealy-mouth use of the word “immigrants” and call a spade a spade. We’re talking about “illegal aliens” here.

    Let there be no doubt that the influx of illegal aliens into this great country is costing American taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Their strategy (as well as that of the Catholic Church)- continue to flood the United States with even more illegal aliens until its law-abiding citizens and government relent and reform the very laws that are being violated.

    You don’t violate Federal Law then try to change it as you’ll get no sympathy here. Here’s a novel idea- try it in your own country and see what it gets you!

    In that regard, you should refrain from engaging in politics- a right that’s reserved for legal immigrants and the citizens of the United States, and return to your own countries.

  2. Hi Keith,

    While I appreciate comments on the blog, I would also appreciate if you could keep your comments relevant to whichever post the comment is under. I am more than willing to listen to your viewpoint, but please don’t clog my inbox with notifications of the same comment over and over on different, and irrelevant, posts.

    With that said, I’d like to address some of the ideas you raised and why some of your logic is problematic.

    First, your idea that the use of the word “immigrants” is mealy-mouthed is interesting. Regardless of legal status, anyone who comes from another country to ours in order to live is, indeed, an immigrant. I understand that you feel the need to use the term “illegal alien”, but like many others, I object to the idea of labeling a human “illegal”. For starters, remember that these “aliens” you seem to despise so much are, indeed, human beings. The state of “illegality” can be placed on an act, but not on a person. To use such logic would mean that anyone who has ever broken any law should be slapped with the title of “illegal”. I will continue to use the word immigrant to describe these people and if I want to refer to their legal status I will use the term “undocumented” which describes their current state without the side-effect of dehumanizing them (therefore making it easier for people to target them with your hateful rhetoric).

    Second, your idea that the “influx of illegal aliens… is costing American taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars” is flat out wrong. Numerous studies have shown that undocumented immigrants actually CONTRIBUTE taxes to an economy. For example, take an April, 2008 report from the Immigration Policy Center, here are a few facts that you might be interested in:

    * Immigrant Households and Businesses Generate Billions: In 2005, immigrant households and businesses paid approximately $300 billion in federal, state, and local taxes: $165 billion in federal income taxes, $85 billion in state and local income taxes, and $50 billion in business taxes.

    * Immigrants Pay More in Taxes Than They Use in Services Over Their Lifetimes: Depending on skills and level of education, each immigrant pays, on average, between $20,000 and $80,000 more in taxes than he or she consumes in public benefits.

    * Immigrants’ Relative Youth Contributes To Social Security’s Health: Current levels of immigration will provide a net benefit to the Social Security system of nearly $450 billion in taxes paid over benefits received during the 2006-2030 period—and almost $4.4 trillion during the 2006-2080 period. This is because 75 percent of immigrants arrive in the United States when they are in their prime working years (age 18 to 65). But the share of native-born citizens in their prime working years now stands at only 60 percent, and will decline rapidly over the coming decades as the Baby Boomers retire.

    * Immigrants Educated on Home Country’s Tab: The roughly 26 million immigrants now in the United States who arrived when they were over the age of 18—after their upbringing and basic education were paid for in their home countries—represent a windfall to American taxpayers of roughly $2.8 trillion. The United States receives all of the tax payments made by these immigrants, while bearing almost none of the costs of raising and educating them.

    Third, as to your ideas about Federal Laws, I think you should keep in mind that our country was founded on the idea that if a law is not serving justice, you should work to change it. Here I would like to quote a fellow blogger at “Smartborders”:

    Americans are rightfully proud that the country we have created respects the “rule of law.” But, while important, respect for law and for the order that it provides never has been and never should be the animating principle of the United States. Our founders believed, as we do, that when rules or laws do not serve the interests of justice, they need to be changed.

    With respect to immigration and immigrants, over the past two decades we have changed our rules and laws but not to serve justice. Rather the new “rule of law” in immigration matters has been instituted in fits of political opportunism and backlash. The criminal justice and penal systems, already weighed down and distorted by the wars on crime and drugs, have been tapped to provide order to immigration. Justice and reason are nowhere in sight.

    Also, I understand that you are intensely focused on the fact that these people are here illegally, but have you ever stopped to consider the conditions in their home countries. Further, have you ever fully researched the history of American interventionism in those countries? From proxy wars fought against “communism” to free trade agreements that harm local economies, we have a rich history in Latin America (you are mostly talking about the Hispanic immigrants right?). I think it would serve you to think much more broadly about the impact American policy has had in Latin America, and thus on Latinos, before you tell them to return to their own countries because this is not our problem.

    I am only responding to this comment and will be taking down all of the duplicate comments you have posted. In the future, as I have requested, please keep your comments limited to a post of relevance.

    Thank you.

  3. gabriellanoel

    I will also use the work “immigrant” when I speak about these individuals that have been subjected to years of fear and intimidation by groups of hateful people. These people are human beings and like my Italian Ancestors who came here to pave the streets…these “immigrants” have also given much of their hard work to help and build our country. Like always the anti’s come to post their horrible negative comments to try to bully the Many Americans that feel compassionate on this issue…but what they do not really is that they can not alter the opinion of good reasonable decent Americans. The truth is that CIR would be a benefit to the workers of America. As long as the Anti’s prolong CIR the employers continue to have access to their cheap underground work force that is not protected by labor laws. When workers are allow to come out of the shadows the employers will have only one choice and that is to pay a decent wage for all workers. That will help our current economic crisis!

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