White House loosens up on ICE workplace policy; “gang” raids continue

In a joint press conference in Miami, several big-city police chiefs urged Congress July 2 to draft a new immigration policy that improves public safety by bringing the undocumented out of the shadows. Miami Police Chief John Timoney, Austin Chief Art Acevedo and former Sacramento Chief Art Venegas said local law enforcement has been undermined by the blurred line between crimes and civil violations of immigration law. Those who call undocumented immigrants “criminals” are misreading the law and hurting their own communities, they said. “When you remove the emotion from the debate,” Chief Acevedo said, “no one can argue that it is in the best interest of public safety to keep these people living in the shadows.” (NYT, July 1)

Under the Obama administration, Homeland Security’s bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has dropped the high-profile workplace raids that marked the enforcement approach of the Bush administration. Instead, ICE is sending employers written notice that they may face civil fines if they are found to be using unauthorized workers. (NYT, July 2)

So-called “gang” raids are continuing, however. Late last month, 80 supposed gang members were arrested in a five-day sweep through Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Texas. Agents also arrested 52 presumed gang members and 14 of their associates in a six-day operation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The joint operation between ICE and state and local law enforcement was part of a national initiative focusing on transnational gangs, said Gregory Palmore, an ICE spokesman. The North Texas operation sought foreign-born gang members and their associates. They included people born in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Laos. People without gang affiliations and US citizens wanted on warrants and criminal violations also were arrested. (NYT, June 30)

See our last post on the politics of immigration.

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