Worksite Enforcement Has No Priority

A Bush administration official of the bogus Homeland Security and Justice team explains that the reason there is no workplace enforcement against hiring illegals is because all the agents in that department are now protecting our nuclear power plants and “infrastructure.” Gimme a break.

Penalties against employers who hire illegal immigrants have all but disappeared since 1999, a federal homeland security investigator told Congress.

Three U.S. employers were threatened with sanctions in 2004, compared with 162 the previous year and 417 in 1999, Richard M. Stana, director of the homeland security and justice team at the Government Accountability Office, testified Tuesday.

Meanwhile, he said, the number of agents devoted to enforcing employer sanctions has dropped by more than half.

“Worksite enforcement has been a low priority,” Stana told a House Judiciary Committee panel on immigration.

A top reason, he said, has been high-level decisions since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to devote immigration enforcement resources toward protecting critical U.S. infrastructure, such as airports and nuclear plants.

But although those efforts have led to increased deportations, no employers who were found to have hired the illegal immigrants faced any kind of financial penalty.

He said that a program called Operation Tarmac, in which the Justice Department conducted sweeps of airport workers, identified 1,000 undocumented workers “but perhaps not as many terrorists as they thought they might identify.”

The focus on national security-related investigations, Stana said, “has taken resources away from workplace enforcement.”

Sanctions as well as workplace arrests of illegal immigrants have fluctuated since the attacks, dipping sharply in 2002, rising again a year later and deflating once more in 2004.

Also contributing to the lax enforcement, Stana said, is the availability of fraudulent Social Security cards and other documents. Stana said some employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers avoid sanctions by going through the motions of compliance: certifying to federal authorities that they have reviewed work eligibility documents that appear genuine.

Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., said the worker sanction program has “failed dramatically,” adding, “it’s not very easy for something to succeed if it’s never implemented.”

Link to story.

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