Even Kinder, Gentler Enforcement Is Too Much

By Mark Krikorian on September 30, 2009

The Obama administration has adopted a Clinton-era immigration enforcement tactic that is starting to bear fruit. As the NYT describes today, instead of factory raids, the feds are auditing the personnel records of hundreds of companies and the people with bogus documents are starting to be fired, 1,800 of them at one L.A. garment factory. Since Obama isn't going to allow raids, audits like this are better than nothing — a lot better, in fact. During the Clinton administration, the INS responded to political criticism in the wake of raids with just this kind of approach. As I described it a few years back:

So, the INS tried out a "kinder, gentler" means of enforcing the law, which fared no better. Rather than conduct raids on individual employers, Operation Vanguard in 1998-99 sought to identify illegal workers at all meatpacking plants in Nebraska through audits of personnel records. The INS then asked to interview those employees who appeared to be unauthorized—and the illegals ran off. The procedure was remarkably successful, and was meant to be repeated every two or three months until the plants were weaned from their dependence on illegal labor.

Local law-enforcement officials were very pleased with the results, but employers and politicians vociferously criticized the very idea of enforcing the immigration law. Gov. Mike Johanns organized a task force to oppose the operation; the meat packers and the ranchers hired former Gov. Ben Nelson to lobby on their behalf; and, in Washington, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.) (coauthor, with Tom Daschle, of the newest amnesty bill, S.2010) made it his mission in life to pressure the Justice Department to stop. They succeeded, the operation was ended, and the INS veteran who thought it up in the first place is now enjoying early retirement.

This time, as much as L.A.'s mayor doesn't like it, the audits seem likely to continue. But the pushback from the open-borders crowd isn't going away either. In fact, Democrats in the California State Senate earlier this month passed a resolution demanding an end to all immigration enforcement. And it's not just nasty raids they're against, but even expansion of E-Verify. Here's the important part of the text:

Resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature hereby condemns the excessive employer audits, mandatory use of the E-Verify system, immigration raids, arrests, detentions, and deportations of undocumented immigrants conducted by the federal Department of Homeland Security, through the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and be it further

Resolved, That the Legislature urges Congress and the President of the United States to declare an immediate moratorium on the aggressive, unprecedented enforcement of employer sanctions, including excessive audits of profiled companies that hire immigrants, the expanded use of the E-Verify system, the federal system of employment verification, the expansion of police-ICE collaboration, and immigration raids in the State of California, until our nation can enact and implement a comprehensive and just reform of our immigration laws with a comprehensive immigration program that recognizes the broad contributions immigrants have made to the fabric of the country

And in a startling example of September 10 thinking, the state senate passed this resolution on . . . September 10.