While deportations of illegal immigrants are at record highs, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration has moved away from high-profile workplace raids in favor of an approach that targets criminals among the illegal immigrant population as well as those doing the hiring:
Broad sweeps fill limited jail and court docket space the Obama administration wants to reserve for more hardened criminals, officials said. Each deportation costs the federal government about $12,500, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Kumar Kibble told lawmakers Wednesday.
Instead, targeting employers is part of an effort by the administration to thwart illegal immigration by reducing the demand for illegal jobs, which draws hundreds of thousands across the border each year to look for work.
“There is a laser-like focus on holding employers accountable. In the final analysis, they are the ones supplying the jobs. It is the greatest use of the resources,” Kibble said.
Under Obama, cases against employers are up sharply: Immigration and Customs Enforcement quadrupled the number of employer audits after Obama took office, increasing the number of inspections and arrests against those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Businesses were fined $6.9 million in fiscal 2010, up from $675,000 in 2008.
That’s pretty amazing — total fines against employers, nationwide, of just $675,000 in 2008? Even the $6.9 million figure seems low, but at least it represents a tenfold increase over the number just two years earlier.
According to the Times story, however, House Republicans are trying to pressure the administration into returning to that previous enforcement approach, focusing manpower and resources on rounding up low-level workers rather than investigating and punishing those who knowingly hire them.
– Jay Bookman