MARCH 04, 2014
Besides blowing off congress to give illegal immigrants backdoor amnesty, the Obama administration is also letting businesses that hire undocumented workers off the hook by drastically reducing fines and enforcement, a new federal audit reveals.
It was only a year ago that the president vowed to come down hard those who hire illegal aliens as a fundamental part of creating an immigration system for the 21st century: “It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers…most businesses want to do the right thing… So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties,” Obama said in 2013.
The reality appears to be much different, though this particular audit, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General, considers a three-year period right before the president’s statement. He was already in the White House, however. From 2009 to 2012, the administration slashed by 40% the amount of fines collected from employers caught with illegal aliens on the their payroll. This represents a chunk of change for the government—from $52.7 million to $31.2 million—but, more importantly, it sends a dangerous message to businesses that profit from the cheap labor provided by those living in the country illegally.
The DHS Inspector General states it quite clearly in a recently issued report: “Homeland Security Investigations’ inconsistent implementation of the administrative inspection process, plus the reduction of fines, may have hindered its mission to prevent or deter employers from violating immigration laws.” The DHS watchdog estimates that approximately 8 million illegal immigrants are in the U.S. workforce and many present fraudulent identity-related documents or use another person’s identity to gain employment.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is charged with cracking down on businesses that hire illegal aliens. During the three-year period analyzed in the probe, ICE got $531 million from congress to fulfill this “worksite enforcement” mission. Instead, the agency selectively enforces the employment law in different regions with some field offices doling out a lot more warnings and far less fines than others.
Making matters worse the umbrella agency, DHS, doesn’t provide sufficient oversight to ensure that its field offices are conducting worksite enforcement inspections consistently, according to the agency watchdog. For instance, investigators reveal that two field offices simply developed and implemented their own system by issuing more warnings than fines, contrary to established ICE guidelines. DHS took no action, the report says, pointing out that “without adequate oversight and monitoring” the agency can’t possibly determine if worksite enforcement is effective in preventing and deterring employers from violating immigration laws.
As an example, the inspector general offers ICE’s Los Angeles field office which has flouted federal policy by creating its own private system of worksite enforcement. During the three-year period considered by the watchdog the office conducted 147 investigations, with 7% resulting in fines and 55% in warnings. Even in instances where more than half of a business’s federal employee verification forms (known as I-9) had “substantive errors” the federal agents in L.A. only issued warnings instead of fines. One business mentioned in the report had its fine slashed an astounding 78%, from $4.9 million to a little over $1 million.
This certainly proves that the Obama administration lied to the American people in 2009 when it announced that DHS would focus on employers who hire unauthorized workers rather than large-scale enforcement actions that almost exclusively targeted illegal aliens under the George W. Bush administration. “Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers,” according to President Obama’s immigration initiative for the 21st century. It doesn’t appear that he plans to do anything about it.
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