Dear Secretary Chertoff:

Here is a copy of the letter that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. I would love to hear a response but I’m sure there won’t be any.

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

I write to express serious concern about the potential development of centers to assist illegal workers, or day laborers. As pointed out in the July 18 Washington Post article about a center in Herndon, Virginia, these workers tend to be illegal aliens who have no desire to become United States citizens.

First, I would like to know what specific actions are being taken to eliminate day labor street corners and parking lots, and specifically what interaction your Department has had with the City of Herndon, Virginia. According to Toussaint Summer, Jr., Herndon Chief of Police, “Immigration agents regularly drive by the labor site at the 7-Eleven when in town” (Herndon Connection, July 14, 2005, “Continuing Day Labor Education”). If true, turning a blind eye to this behavior is incomprehensible.

Second, I would like you to reassure me that no federal funds from the Department of Homeland Security are being used to establish any day labor center or “hiring hall,” not just in Herndon but throughout the United States. According to a July 18, 2005 article in The Wall Street Journal (“Immigration workers attract attention from activists”), the City of Houston “agreed to disburse $90,000 in federal grant money for a day labor center east of downtown.” Federal taxpayers should not be footing the bill for illegal aliens to find work on U.S. soil.

Third, the operation of such a center could be construed to provide a protective shield for illegal aliens, thus violating the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In fact, 8 USC 1373 states that, “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” These centers should be able to confirm that they are not assisting illegal aliens, and should appropriately identify that employment services are meant only for those who are documented, residential aliens, or U.S. citizens. What is the Department doing to ensure that such labor centers are complying with the law, specifically 8 USC 1373?

Finally, these workers have broken the law by residing in the United States without proper screening. They have also been assisted by those who pick up the illegal aliens to do work. The employers should also face penalties for providing work to those lacking the proper authorization, and skirting our tax system by paying under the table. These centers do nothing to promote our adherence to the rule of law, and should not be tolerated by the any government entity.

I appreciate your consideration, and look forward to hearing from you about the Department’s role in the this matter.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley United States Senator

cc: Michael Garcia, Assistant Secretary Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Eduardo Aguirre Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services

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