Monday, September 6, 2010

Illegal immigration way down, but still a Hot Button issue for Goodlatte and the GOP

Several revealing reports came out last week debunking GOP claims that illegal immigration is up.  Most notable of those reports was the Pew Hispanic Center's showing an overall 8% drop in illegal immigrants living in the United States.  More significantly the annual inflow of new illegal immigrants dropped sharply, from a peak of 850,000 in 2005 to around 300,000 in 2009.

The Pew Hispanic Center report attributes the drop of inflow and unauthorized immigrants living in the United States to a corresponding decline in the economy and increased enforcement of immigration laws.  When compared to the years of GOP control of the White House and both chambers of Congress (2001 to 2007) where illegal immigration increased every year, Democratic control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government shows a reversal of that trend.

Sensing a growing tide of opposition to Democratic control, Republicans continue to beat the drum of illegal immigration as one of their signature wedge issues heading into the final two months of the 2010 Mid-Term elections. This despite the most recent evidence in the Pew Hispanic Center's September 1, 2010 report and data collected by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) showing under Democratic control, enforcement of current immigration laws have increased significantly and deportations are way up. 

The focus of the Obama Administration's illegal immigration law enforcement efforts has been on those that have felony or misdemeanor convictions, non-compliance with deportation orders, and audits of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.  But this doesn't seem to matter to Republicans, despite the contradictory data and evidence. 

In Town Hall meetings around Virginia's 6th Congressional District, sponsored by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke), outdated or inaccurate information continues to be used to underscore the GOP's position to illegal immigration.  Here is part of my interview with Congressman Goodlatte regarding immigration:

According to a July 26, 2010 article by Washington Post Staff Writer, Peter Slevin,

The Obama administration has been moving away from using work-site raids to target employers. Just 765 undocumented workers have been arrested at their jobs this fiscal year, compared with 5,100 in 2008, according to Department of Homeland Security figures. Instead, officers have increased employer audits, studying the employee documentation of 2,875 companies suspected of hiring illegal workers and assessing $6.4 million in fines.
By Congressman Goodlatte's own admission, he didn't know what the penalty was but he thinks its significant. When $6.4 million in fines is divided by the 2,875 companies the Obama Administration has audited, it comes out to $2,226.09 per company. By any standard, a $2,200 penalty for domestic companies and businesses breaking U.S. Immigration Law, for knowingly hiring illegal workers is comparable to a slap on the wrist. At this point, the benefits to hiring someone who is not eligible to work in this country outweigh the costs.  Also, no indication if any of these employers have gone to jail for breaking the law?

So the question becomes are Republicans, like Congressman Goodlatte, intentionally misleading voters and their constituents with inaccurate information on illegal immigration for the sole purpose of regaining control of congress after November 2nd or are their Congressional Staffs really that bad at getting updated information from Homeland Security and ICE?  In some places, they refer to spreading misinformation as lying.  But in our country today, its called POLITICS

Links relating to this post: 

Center for Investigative Reporting Blog 
Homeland Security Newswire 
ICE Removal Statistics  
Fines/Penalties for hiring illegal workers  


  1. As long as there are still people coming across our border illegally there is a problem. No mater if it is a few hundred or thousands! It is freaking illegal!

  2. I don't disagree about the illegality aspect. So then, who do you hold accountable the most? The person crossing the boarder illegally for a job opportunity to feed their family and make a better life, or the employer that hires them? Chicken or the egg?

    If there were no jobs to incetivise illegal immigration, then we wouldn't be having this discussion or problem. This is a three part problem. First are employers that hire illegal workers. They're taking jobs away from native born and naturilzed citizens, and those that have gone through the process and are legally able to work in this country. In my opinion, the penalty for hiring illegal workers doesn't work. If it did, employers that are breaking the law wouldn't even try. It isn't harsh enough. If they were likely to loose their business and go to jail for a long time, you'd see an instant change in behavior.

    Second, instead of talking about it, give our Boarder Patrol Officers and Immigration and Customes Enforcement the resources they need to do their job. I have no problem using Drones to patrol the boarder and where it makes sense, building a fence. But blaming the government for not doing enough when the issue is being used as a wedge issue and not funding these efforts has to stop. Put up or shut up.

    Third, Mexico and other Latin American nations. They have to make a choice if they are going to continue the status quo of economic inequity within their countries that is driving their citizens north to the United States. The United States can put pressure on them in a number of ways, but it is ultimately up to them to make those decision to have a more equitable civil society.

    So, what to you propose?