Skip to comments.Immigration Raids Lead U.S. to a Moral, Legal Crisis
Posted on 06/19/2008 8:58:57 PM PDT by Coffee200am
Postville, Iowa has been turned into a ghost town. Nearly a third of its residents, mostly undocumented workers from Guatemala and Mexico, sit in jail convicted of identity crimes or awaiting deportation. Hundreds more hide in fear. Their children, too scared to go to school, have left the towns classrooms nearly empty. For this, Postville should thank their local police, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), and a failed immigration policy.
Aided by local law enforcement, ICE arrested 389 workers during the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history at the Postville meatpacking plant, the areas major employer. In an unprecedented move, ICE criminally charged 302 of these workers with aggravated ID theft and/or using false social security numbers. Within days, ICE resolved their fate: 297 men and women pled guilty and were sentenced to prison and subsequent deportation. Only a few await criminal trials or immigration hearings.
Postville is one of the latest in a series of immigration raids that have intensified in the past three years. These raids are leading our nation to a moral, legal and humanitarian crisis.
ICEs heavy-handed enforcement against undocumented workers in the wake of failed immigration reform is shameful. Under current immigration laws, no more than 10,000 of the backlogged visas for unskilled workers and 66,000 temporary visas for seasonal workers are available each year. In contrast, an estimated 2,000 persons cross the Southwest border into the U.S. daily and an estimated 12 million undocumented persons live in the United States.
Global economic realities push willing workers out of their nations, where they have no means to earn even a subsistence living and pull them into low-wage jobs in the United States, where the lack of labor protection leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. U.S. employers and we as consumers benefit from their cheap labor, but these workers and their families bear the brunt of a broken immigration system.
Few employers face civil and criminal sanctions for violating immigration and labor laws. So far, no one from Postville plant has been charged despite overwhelming evidence that the company helped workers procure false documents, paid substandard wages, failed to pay overtime, and seriously mistreated its workers. All the while, Congress continues to kill proposals granting even temporary legal status to agricultural workers, while doling out large subsidies to U.S. farmers without regard to their effect on future migration of rural workers from developing nations into the United States.
Legally speaking, ICE and federal prosecutors overstepped their powers when they criminally charged the workers. Congress specifically exempted from prosecution workers who use false Social Security numbers to engage in otherwise lawful conduct, such as to procure jobs.
This unprecedented criminalization of undocumented workers also has not been accompanied by a comparable infusion of constitutional guarantees in the handling of these cases. ICE conducted the investigation leading to the Postville raid with easy access to immigration databases and employee documents. ICE then executed the raid with easily-procured administrative, not criminal, warrants.
Thus, the protection of stricter Fourth Amendment search and seizure, Fifth Amendment due process, and Sixth Amendment right to counsel constitutional guarantees available to most criminal defendants were unavailable to these workers. Nearly all waived any rights they might have had under extreme prosecutorial pressure. The uncharacteristic speed and efficiency of the Postville raid left workers without adequate opportunity to consult with defense counsel, and none or few had access to immigration lawyers to learn about the immigration consequences of their pleas.
The involvement of local law enforcement in these raids is also worrisome. Distrust of police keeps many immigrants from reporting crime. This increases their vulnerability as victims. Moreover, the drain on limited resources from these additional responsibilities on local police takes away from their primary duties as community caretakers.
The courts must be vigilant in protecting the rights of workers and their families and insist on stricter constitutional guarantees when criminal charges are involved.
These raids should be halted immediately. The prospect of future raids should certainly create a sense of urgency for the United States to adopt immigration policies that allows employers to hire migrant workers, and include strong labor protections that offer a path to legalization for workers and their families. If workers are legal, we are all better off.
Aldana is a board member of the Society of American Law Teachers and a professor of law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Law.
(That’s “Boo Hoo” in Spanish)
They’re right next door to me, ICE. Go and GET them.
No, no. It’s “Cry Me A Rio.”
No moral issues as far as I’m concerned. They broke the law, they go home. Very simple, and much better treatment than the average US citizen criminal faces in his own country.
I agree that employers should be fined too. Other than that, I am glad to see the Government finally doing its job (though its probably just doing it for show).
Exactly, no one is the blame but the illegals them selves..they could of stayed home....
And much better treatment than the average US citizen criminal faces in Mejico.
“Aided by local law enforcement, ICE arrested 389 workers during the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history at the Postville meatpacking plant, the areas major employer. In an unprecedented move, ICE criminally charged 302 of these workers with aggravated ID theft and/or using false social security numbers. Within days, ICE resolved their fate: 297 men and women pled guilty and were sentenced to prison and subsequent deportation.”
ICE agents rock! They sure do more than the BP.
And Ms. Aldana, with all your mumbo jumbo legal arguments, shouldn’t there only be 1 question here?
Are these invaders here LEGALLY?
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
>The involvement of local law enforcement in these raids is also worrisome
This guy should be hanged
Obedience of the law is demanded; not asked as a favor.
No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.
There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100% Americanism, only for those who are Americans and nothing else.
- Theodore Roosevelt
Congress exempted illegal aliens from identity theft laws?
There was a time in this country when someone this stupid could not get a job as a janitor at a “law school.” Now, a person with her level of intelligence can actually get a job as a “teacher” at a “law school.” Must be one of those “wrong direction” things that the pollsters are always asking about.
“Legally speaking, ICE and federal prosecutors overstepped their powers when they criminally charged the workers. Congress specifically exempted from prosecution workers who use false Social Security numbers to engage in otherwise lawful conduct, such as to procure jobs.”
Actually its Congress who has overstepped their powers by exempting illegals from prosecution.
As for the fact that the employers face no charges, she's right. We can and should fix that. Under current law, this employer is liable for fines of up to $5,000/illegal, with IIRC an additional fine of $6,000/illegal if a "pattern of practice" of hiring illegals can be established. A fine of about $3 million would send a nice message to other employers. Let's roll.
Just because this government has failed to enforce the law in the past doesn't mean they shouldn't do it now.
Fact is they should greatly intensify the capture an deportation to make up for their past dereliction of duty
Since all the illegals are surely not in jail, it's certain that illegals made up a majority of the population. It's also clear that the American citizens of the town have been victims of an invasion that rendered them aliens in their own hometown. It's also clear that when companies built a meatpacking plant in an area without a large enough population to fill the jobs, and then advertize the jobs in Spanish language papers, and hire huge numbers of Spanish speakers, they know perfectly well they are conspiring to break our immigration laws. The feds should go after them with RICO laws, jail the top management and seize the plant.