Monday, July 21, 2008

Immigrants and Employers

The Bush administration has taken a tougher line on enforcement of immigration law by threatening undocumented workers rounded up in ICE raids with criminal prosecution. (See post for May 24 and July 18, 2008.) It also has taken to bringing criminal charges against employers. The New York Times quotes in an editorial a California lawyer representing two companies: "The system is just as broken for employers as it is for immigrants." Only justice has not been equal. After the Potsville, IA, raids hundreds of immigrant workers were prosecuted for using false documents, while only three supervisors are being charged with any crime. (See Washington Post article.)

The Times observed that the business community that has benefited from the labor of undocumented workers had given tepid support to comprehensive reform til local and state governments started enacting or thinking of enacting laws that would penalize employers and deprive them of immigrant labor. Now the employers are aroused. Some of them deserve no sympathy, since they do exploit undocumented workers. Still, as the Times observes, honest and by-the-book employers need their own "path to get right and stay right with the law."

The Los Angeles Times reports that deportation cases are overloading the local immigration court. The volume has easily doubled over the last two years, yet only two judges were added to the court since 2000. The situation is similar around the country. The overload raises questions about the kind of justice the undocumented are getting.

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