I’ll believe it when I see it:
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Friday it planned to raise fines significantly for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, part of a broader effort that includes improved border security after Congress failed to pass immigration-related legislation in 2007.
The hikes in employer fines would be the first since 1999. The new policy is the latest aimed at the most sensitive pressure point in illegal immigration: the businesses that employ the workers.
The Homeland Security department has intensified raids on rogue companies in the past three years, prosecuting executives on criminal charges and arresting workers, who often use valid Social Security numbers, for identity theft.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff offered examples Friday of his agency’s heightened focus on company executives. He cited the human resources director of a Missouri poultry plant now facing a 10-year prison sentence for hiring illegal immigrants. Chertoff also pointed to the owner of an Indiana company sentenced to 18 months in jail and forced to forfeit $1.4 million.
“These are the kinds of cases that have high impact on those who would hire and employ undocumented illegal aliens,” he said.
He described the new hike in penalties as “part of our effort to continue to make it less appealing for people to break the law” and “a way to keep that pressure up.”
Chertoff said the administration was acting to fill the vacuum left by Congress and that fixes were needed to deal with illegal immigration and to improve the system through which people enter the U.S. legally.
“Congress didn’t give us comprehensive immigration reform, so we’re going to do what we can with the tools that we have, and frankly we’ve made progress and done quite a bit,” he said.
In an hour-long briefing, Chertoff and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey discussed escalating violence along the Southwest border prompted by “alien smugglers, drug smugglers, gun smugglers and the like,” and they called on Congress to provide more funding to combat it. Mukasey called border enforcement needs as “massive.”
Mukasey said, “Given the magnitude of the threat, it is imperative that new resources be added.”
The increased employer fines will take effect March 27. The minimum penalty would increase by $100 to $375. The maximum fine for a first-time offender would jump $1,000 to $3,200. And the maximum fine for repeated violations would rise from $5,000 to $16,000.
Fines are assessed on a per-person basis, so an employer with 10 illegal immigrants on staff would pay 10 fines.
The two officials said the administration was adding more border agents and prosecutors, as well as extending fencing and vehicle barriers.
The so-called ‘intensified raids’ and those actually caught are just a drop in a huge bucket. I remember calling the ICE several times when I was stationed in D.C. to report illegals working for contractors on military installations in the area, as well as in my apartment complex, only to get a perfunctory “we’ll take the information and see what we can do” crap.
I write e-mails to the ICE and the DHS, as well as post feedback on their websites. They probably get thousands e-mails and phone calls from fed-up Americans everyday.
It’s getting to the point where they can no longer ignore the anger or the consequences of illegal immigration.
I’m waiting to see just how much they do about it.