Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in ‘Silent Raids’

NY Times:

Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in ‘Silent Raids’

BREWSTER, Wash. — The Obama administration has replaced immigration raids at factories and farms with a quieter enforcement strategy: sending federal agents to scour companies’ records for illegal immigrant workers.

While the sweeps of the past commonly led to the deportation of such workers, the “silent raids,” as employers call the audits, usually result in the workers being fired, but in many cases they are not deported.

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.

Employers say the audits reach more companies than the work-site roundups of the administration of President George W. Bush. The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll— not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid — and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements. Auditing is “a far more effective enforcement tool,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, which includes many worried fruit growers.

“Instead of hundreds of agents going after one company, now one agent can go after hundreds of companies,” said Mark K. Reed, president of Border Management Strategies, a consulting firm in Tucson that advises companies across the country on immigration law. “And there is no drama, no trauma, no families being torn apart, no handcuffs.”

I guess some editor at the Times was asleep at the switch calling these workers "illegal" :)

But it's an interesting question which approach is ultimately more effective. How many times have I heard the pro-illegal argument, "You can't deport 3 million people" and the response, "You don't have to, penalise the companies that hire them and they'll go home"?

I'm sure it's politics-driven as well; rounding up illegals themselves played well with Presidents Bush's base but would alienate Pres. Obama's.
I dunno. If I were an illegal would I rather get scooped up in an old-style raid and sent home or fired due to a "silent raid" and find over weeks to come that I couldn't get another job.

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