The lack of seriousness in enforcing immigration laws

LA Times:

Every year, the Social Security Administration collects information from companies that could make it easier to crack down on illegal immigration.

A New Jersey labor broker and a security guard firm in California are among thousands of businesses that have filed Social Security tax payments for a large number of workers that do not match any known taxpayer. That, the Social Security agency says, is a sign that the workers are most likely illegal. In 2001, payments for 96% of the New Jersey company's workers did not correspond to any taxpayer on file.

Yet the authorities who enforce immigration law have no access to the names of the companies or the workers.

That is just one of many ways that legal barriers, funding priorities and other problems make it hard for immigration officials to go to the one place they know undocumented workers will be: the work site.

With the Senate debating an overhaul of immigration laws, the nation is about to see how much muscle Congress is willing to put into the effort to stop illegal hiring.

Proposals to increase federal oversight of employers and the workplace have long faced opposition from business groups, which say they fear taking on new costs and struggling with flawed government databases.

The House has passed legislation that would require companies to check the legal status of all employees with Homeland Security Department databases. It also would allow enforcement officials to see Social Security wage data and increase civil and criminal penalties for employing undocumented immigrants.

The Senate too is debating compulsory worker checks, along with proposals to boost the number of work-site investigators and raise penalties for hiring undocumented workers.

"Nothing gets enforced. Employer sanctions don't get enforced," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. And the fact that existing laws against illegal hiring are not fully enforced, Feinstein said, "in itself is a magnet" attracting more illegal immigrants.

The number of federal workers who focus on finding illegal immigrants on the job has dropped in recent years, from 240 in 1999 to 90 in 2003.

...
There is much more. A cheap way of handing this would be to pain more helicopters witht he ICE logo and fly them around job sites like the one described here. When a helicopter with similar markings flew by a job site in Houston the panic was extroidinary. This suggest that enforcement would be effective if given a chance. But why stop with employers. Why not require hospitals that treat illegals to report the information to ICE. How about requiring schools that must accept children of illegal aliens to turn the information over to ICE. That is what you would do if you were serious about the rule of law when it comes to immigration.

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