First Virtual Fencing, Now a Virtual Raid

By Mark Krikorian on June 12, 2009

From the LA Times:

No immigration agents descended on Overhill Farms, a major food-processing plant in Vernon. No one was arrested or deported. There were no frantic scenes of desperate workers fleeing la migra through the gritty streets of the industrial suburb southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

For more than 200 Overhill workers, however, the effect was devastating: All lost steady jobs last month and now find themselves in a precarious employment market, without severance pay or medical insurance. It wasn't a hot tip or an undercover informant that helped seal their fates, but a computer check of Social Security numbers.

"A desktop raid" is how the workers' representative, John M. Grant, vice president of Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, described the scenario.

Overhill, a $200-million-a-year company that provides frozen meals for clients such as American Airlines, Panda Express, Safeway and Jenny Craig, says it had no choice: An Internal Revenue Service audit found that 260 workers had provided "invalid or fraudulent" Social Security numbers. The government took no action against the workers. But Overhill did: All of the employees were fired May 31.

Of course, this is the whole point of attrition through enforcement — make it impossible for illegal aliens to live a normal life here so they go home. And it works — my colleague Steve Camarota has a paper in the works that suggests the total illegal population may now be below 11 million. And as his earlier piece on the subject found, the decline started before the onset of the recession, so enforcement is a factor, in addition to the obvious increase in unemployment.

Precisely because an attrition policy works, Obama seems to be planning to ditch important parts of it. The administration apparently wants to gut the often-delayed rule requiring federal contractors to use the E-Verify system to screen out illegals and also abandon the effort to inform employers of people on their payrolls with false or mismatched Social Security numbers.

And FAIR reports today that the Democrats on two separate House appropriations subcommittees actually rejected amendments from Rep. Jack Kingston to require E-Verify use for companies doing business with Congress specifically (like the firms running the cafeterias and what have you) or with the Department of Homeland Security. Sorry, but if you're against having DHS contractors screen out illegal aliens, you are objectively anti-enforcement.