Magazine article Workforce Management

Work-Site Raids Fail to Appease Conservatives

Magazine article Workforce Management

Work-Site Raids Fail to Appease Conservatives

Article excerpt

IMMIGRATION POLICY

A high-profile effort by the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on businesses that employ undocumented workers has failed to mollify a House conservative who plays a role in immigration policy. And that response signals the potential difficulty Congress faces in passing reform this year.

From April 19 through May 9, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, arrested owners and executives of three companies across the country. In what ICE called the biggest raid in history, it arrested 1,187 illegal immigrant employees of IFCO Systems North America Inc., a Houston pallet manufacturer.

Those results don't impress Rep. John Hostettler, R-Indiana, chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims. Hostettler criticizes the Bush administration for failing to enforce existing immigration laws.

Hostettler's position is emblematic of conservatives who were influential in gaining House approval of an immigration bill in December that focused strictly on border security.

In mid-May, the Senate began debate on comprehensive immigration legislation that would include a guest worker program and a pathway to legal status for undocumented workers. Leaders hoped to approve a bill by Memorial Day. The broader Senate approach is backed by President Bush and the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a group of business organizations that argue a strong immigrant workforce is crucial to economic growth. In a national address last week, Bush proposed a new biometric identification card for legal foreign workers. Employers could then verify eligibility, leaving them "with no excuse for violating" immigration laws.

Melding the House and Senate bills into a final measure would require potentially volatile negotiations. The worksite enforcements are seen as a way for the Bush administration to mollify conservative critics who want to crack down on illegal immigrants. …

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