Friday, April 21, 2006

Enforcement Farce

I was more than skeptical about the recent immigration raid representing an actual change in government policy. In fact, the overtly political move made me even angrier when I saw the actual numbers, which have been in serious decline under Bush. Immigration enforcement seems to have gone from lax under Clinton to non-existent under Bush. One would think that an exaggeration, but, sadly, it is not. In 2004 there was the grand total of 159 worksite arrests and a whopping 3 intents to fine issued (link). Contrast that with 1997 (17,000+ arrests, 865 notices of intent to fine). What are all the ICE and INS employees doing? Seriously. As the border patrol was marginally boosted for PR reasons, the administration gutted any attempt to meaningfully enforce the law within the interior.

Upon hearing of this raid, I thought the raid was a pitiful and transparent attempt to put up a front of get-tough enforcement. But I hadn't realized the raid also (and probably more importantly) has the effect of mobilizing the business lobby in support of illegal immigration. Mickey Kaus quotes a lawyer interviewed on NPR to support this angle, "I think it's a clear message to employers that you better pick up the phone and start calling your Congressional and Senate representatives because we need immigration reform badly."

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