Thursday, April 20, 2006


I speak regularly with dedicated men and women who work for the Department of Homeland Security, and especially agents from across the country who work for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I can tell you based on my reporting over the last five years that the Bush administration's belated efforts to look tough on immigration enforcement at worksites amount to a cynical, politically timed effort to salvage the White House's guest worker program dreams and schemes. I'm referring to this story linked prominently today on Drudge and spread elsewhere:

Federal immigration authorities rounded up more than 1,000 illegal immigrants at dozens of sites and charged nine individuals of the firm that employed them, federal law enforcement officials announced. Seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, which has offices in several states, were arrested and charged in connection with the employment of illegal immigrants, said U.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby in Albany, New York.

Suddaby said two lower level employees were also charged in the case.

Wednesday's action against IFCO Systems -- an industry leader in the manufacture of wooden pallets, crates and containers -- came as Homeland Security and Justice Department officials prepared to announce steps to toughen internal enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other Bush administration officials and a federal prosecutor will appear at the agency's Washington headquarters Thursday. They will announce the new strategy aimed at employers and disclose the results of the enforcement actions targeting IFCO Systems.

Customs officials said agents made more than a thousand arrests in nearly 40 locations including Houston, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona; and Albany, New York.

Well, this is all sounds good and tough...until you look at the Bush administration's record for the last several years. Don't be fooled.

For those covering DHS Secretary Chertoff's press conference today, ask him to explain this:

Via Edwin S. Rubenstein. Sources: GAO, "Immigration Enforcement: Weaknesses Hinder Employment Verification and Worksite Enforcement Efforts," August 2005. Figures 3, 4, and 5. (1999-2004.); Dept. of Homeland Security, 2003 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, September 2004. Table 39. (1997-1998); Dept. of Homeland Security, 2001 Statistical Yearbook, Table 61. (1992-1996).

As Rubenstein points out, this means that from 1997 to 2003, worksite arrests under the Bush administration fell by a factor of some 97 percent since 1997--and plunged by another 2/3rds by 2004.

Where have they been all this time?

As for getting tough on employers, Rubenstein also notes these stunning statistics: "[O]f the 3,064 workforce investigations closed [in 2004], fines were imposed in just 3 (three!) of them – one out of one thousand. . By contrast, fines were imposed in about 11 percent of closed investigations in 1997."

Notices of intent to fine employers:

1997: 865
1999: 417
2000: 178
2001: 100
2003: 162
2004: 3

Based on my reporting and interviews with ICE agents, I can also tell you that this week's dog-and-pony show will result in very few of the arrested illegal aliens actually being deported. Despite what the administration claims, "catch and release" is still the order of the day.

Just ask local and federal law enforcement officers in the Galveston, Texas, area, where in January of this year, following a collaborative effort between local police and area ICE agents, some 62 illegal aliens were caught at a day labor site...and released after local open-borders activists from LULAC kicked up a fuss and Washington ordered its local ICE agents to cave in. It happens every day.

More Bush-era catch-and-release background:here and here and here. and here. Must-read from indefatigable deportation analyst Juan Mann here.

You want "comprehensive immigration reform?" Then stop talking about making existing problems worse by piling on a new guest worker/amnesty program.

Clean our own house first.


Blogger reax:

La Shawn Barber is "glad to read any story with the words 'illegal immigration' and 'arrest' in it." She links to a justifiably cynical Dan Riehl .

Previous this month:

The mess at DHS

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