Factory raid creates problems
Under the Bush administration the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often raided factories, farms, and businesses to apprehend undocumented workers for deportation. The raids caused much hardship for immigrant families, but employers were often treated lightly. Candidate Barack Obama promised to deal more compassionately with the workers and their families, and to enforce the law more rigorously with the employers – especially those who flouted labor laws in regard to hours, wages, and child labor. As president he allowed a kind of moratorium on factory raids and used an audit of hiring as a weapon to get at the wayward employers. Raids have declined and more employers are signing up for the E-verify program – in which employers can verify the legitimacy of their workers’ Social Security numbers.
But immigration advocates are still wary of the president’s sending mixed signals. He has yet to get behind specific legislation, and deportations have not really declined. Now even ICE is confused about what the administration wants them to do. It has signed up local jails and police to help enforce the law and is active in pursuing “fugitives” – those who scoff at deportation orders. But when agents raided a company, Yamoto Engine Specialists Ltd of Bellingham, Washington, they had under surveillance for a while, the White House reacted hostilely. It made ICE not only release the apprehended workers, but ordered they be given work permits. Now those workers have had their permits revoked by Homeland Security and are subject to deportation. Advocates and ICE both wonder where the administration is going (see Arizona Republic article).
Cardinal advocates for immigrants on health care reform
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles made an appeal for all immigrants in regard to the health care reform bill in the U.S. Senate. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times Mahony endorsed the provisions of the previously enacted House bill and hoped the Senate would rewrite its provisions to correspond. Basically he asked for fairness to immigrants in participating in the insurance exchanges that would be created for those not covered by employers. The Senate would deny for the first five years subsidies to all immigrants lawfully in the country and exclude the undocumented completely from the exchanges – even if they would pay out of their own pocket.
The cardinal pointed out that many families of immigrants are “mixed” – some members undocumented, some here legally, and some U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization. To deny the right to purchase insurance on the exchanges – which, incidentally, are created to make health insurance affordable to the uninsured – is to deny the benefit of the law to those here legally or to American citizens.