Last week, immigration enforcement policy shifted a little. The administration issued guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement that place a new emphasis on prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
That is a good idea, and a break from the Bush administration method — mass raids to net immigrant workers while leaving their bosses alone. The raids were tuned to the theatrics of the poisoned immigration debate, using heavy weapons, dogs and helicopters to spread the illusion that something was getting fixed.
That Bush was something else, wasn't he? I thought hindsight was supposed to be 20/20? How can there still be people who claim Bush was a good president? This one single example, which is such a typical description of the Bush policies, says it all.
The New York Times goes on to say that however improved the Obama approach might be, it too will fail to bring about the desired result. By targeting employers, the undocumented workers suffer almost as badly, at least as far as losing their jobs goes. Other employers would probably get rid of their immigrant workers in fear.
The decision to adjust the policy on raids seems sensibly motivated. But we agree with immigration and labor experts like Professor Jennifer Gordon of Fordham Law School, who sees the new guidelines as a smarter version of a bad idea. Far better, she says, for the government to redouble enforcement of laws like the minimum wage, the right to organize, and health and safety protections. This would reduce the incentive to hire the undocumented, and raise standards for all workers. It would not end up devastating immigrant families, as raids do. In times like these, that would be a step toward immigration reform that all workers could support.
What's your opinion? I like what Prof. Gordon has to say. I'd go further, though. I'd first grant a complete amnesty on all aspects of illegal immigration. If people are in the United States, I say it no longer should matter how they arrived. Then, I would push for all those nice reforms around the workplace.
What do you think? Should being an illegal immigrant be a crime? Should being an undocumented person be a crime? Aren't many of them making huge sacrifices and taking huge risks for their families? Doesn't that make them very much like the "family values" folks who persecute them and call for their arrests?
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