Shift in Focus

Along with border security and criminal deportation, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency also investigates workplace violations. These include harboring illegal immigrants (or failing to verify their residency status) and mistreatment of workers. This strategy has arisen in a wave of audits of companies with questionable hiring practices. Along with the general outline of the ICE plan, their website includes up to date news feeds of worksite violations. This allows citizens to personally view the progress of this strategy. One doesn’t have to take the Feds’ word for it; the mainstream media has noticed some changes as well.

The New York Times reported on an incident in Washington in which Gebbers Farms was required to fire about 500 undocumented workers. In addition to this story, the article focuses on a general shift in immigration strategy of the Obama administration. The I-9 audits were reported to be promising because it allows more companies to be investigated than traditional raids. The discontent of those businesses that have no way to fill the positions of the undocumented workers was mentioned along with the specific incidence of the Gebbers employees.

A more critical view towards this new worksite enforcement strategy is offered by the Washington Post.  The post cites experts who claim that the I-9 employee verification system is unreliable.  This article quotes ICE investigation data and arrest statistics in the past year. Instances of small businesses being investigated while having no undocumented workers are pointed out by the Post. Even former ICE officials expressed their doubts of the strategy without sufficient penalties for businesses. The article almost exclusively provides those expert opinions that are critical of the strategy.

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