November 23, 2009

Flushing out illegal immigrants — quietly

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We reported in July that Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Obama had initiated an audit of employers with illegal immigrant employees in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Antonio and New York.

Now, a major janitorial services firm owned by local conservative talk radio host Peter Weissbach has fired about 100 janitors suspected of being illegal.  The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Building Maintenance will continue to let go workers in waves so managers can hire replacements.

At first, the Obama Administration’s approach was heralded by immigrant advocates as more humane, since it keeps enough of a buffer between immigration agents and illegal immigrants so the former don’t deport the latter wholesale.

Conservative Law Professor Kris Kobach has also focused on making it more difficult for employers to hire and employ illegals.  The federal strategy also  includes roping in local law enforcement to identify illegal immigrants with criminal histories in preparation for deportation.

The government’s more targeted, two-pronged approach is aimed at chipping away at the illegal immigration population by reducing the supply of jobs that draws people to this country illegally and speeding up deportation proceedings by focusing them on criminals.

U.S. treatment of illegal immigrant once they have been detained has been criticized as inhumane due to the dirty, overcrowded private contractor facilities for housing those detainees.  By heading off immigrants prior to their entrance into the broken deportation system, the Obama Administration could be trying to ease the pressure on fixing the process now.

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