President Shows An Iron Fist With His Right Hand While His Left Hand Pushes a Relatively Forgiving Legislative Agenda
June 22, 2006

As he champions a legislative agenda that will allow millions of illegal aliens a path toward legalization, President Bush has, at the same time, gotten tough on immigration violators, particularly employers. Practically speaking, one might be confused by these seemingly contradictory policies. Politically speaking, however, the logic of the President’s actions is quite clear.

Reputation and appearance are important in any workplace or community, and the political world of Washington D.C. is no exception. As the President advocates for the enactment of legislation that will facilitate the legalization of most of the 15 million or so illegal aliens in the U.S., he also wants to appear to be mindful of “law and order” by implementing measures to punish companies that employ this very population. This sudden interest in enforcing our immigration laws against employers comes, not coincidentally, at the very same time he is trying to persuade the U.S. House of Representatives to back off from their harder line approach to our nation’s immigration issues. As many of our readers may be aware, while the U.S. Senate recently passed legislation containing various, although not truly comprehensive, “path to legalization” type provisions, the U.S. House of Representatives has only agreed on “enforcement only” measures.

In a memo released by the White House on June 19, President Bush calls attention to a variety of sensational operations carried out by the Immigration and Custom Enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security in recent months. With labels such as “Operation Roll Back” or “Operation Return to Sender”, President Bush is letting it be known that immigration enforcement is a concern to his administration. In essence, it touts increased budgetary allocation, the investigation of a few “big fish” employers who have large numbers of unauthorized workers on staff, multi-million dollar seizures from such outlaw employers and the imposition of “the largest worksite enforcement penalty in U.S. history.”

Also discussed is the Bush administration’s recent proposal to consider employers legally on notice of, and liable for, an employee’s illegal status after the employer receives a “no match” letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) indicating that the SS number provided for that employee does not match the SSA’s records.

Additionally, the President’s memo outlines the Administration’s proposal for the issuance of a “tamper proof” identification card, featuring biometric technology, for all legal foreign workers, and plans to launch task forces in 11 major cities to investigate criminal enterprises known to produce fake documents.

As the summer passes, and as the fall session of Congress nears, we can expect a continuation of intense political posturing by the President and many other players in Washington, in the high stakes arena of today’s immigration debate. In the meantime, we can also expect continued fear, anxiety, confusion and uncertain times for our nation’s undocumented population.

Copyright © 2006-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois