News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

White House pressures employers to fire the undocumented

The Obama administration is again walking a centrist path, this time with the enforcement of immigration laws.

The Bush team's approach was to stage workplace raids, rounding up undocumented workers by the bus load. Because working without a visa is a civil violation akin to simple speeding, Bush officials often charged detained workers with identity theft, a real crime that includes a prison sentence. The Bush people used the identity theft charges to plea bargain the arrested workers into accepting deportation. (It's worthwhile to note the Supreme Court unanimously threw out this misuse of identity theft charges if a worker uses fake ID to obtain an honest job rather than defraud.)

Rather than round up undocumented workers en mass, which leaves children suddenly without parents and divides families, the Obama administration is electing to pressure employers to dismiss undocumented workers. The Obama team is doing this by threatening companies with stiff fines if they are caught employing those without legal status to work.

Some supporters of immigration reform are critical of the White House, feeling any enforcement of these laws is inhumane. Meanwhile, many on the right feel the Obama strategy is a half measure which places the burden of law enforcement on employers. This is the irony of the centrist approach which drives most of Obama's decisions. It draws ire from both extremes.

Will the U.S. public agree with the president? You can be sure both sides will mount a spin offensive to prevent a shift toward the center.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez