In the summer of 2019, the United States cracked down on illegal immigrants. On August 7, the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched seven meat processing plants in Mississippi and arrested a total of 680 workers suspected of illegal residence. This is the largest illegal immigration search in the United States in the past decade.
The arrested children were crying at law enforcement officials. Such a picture made many people feel worried, and the immigration and customs law enforcement bureau quickly received criticism from all parties. Although they later released more than 300 immigrants, they were still unable to relieve the people.
These so many illegal immigrants that have been searched are rarely noticed, but as laborers, they play a huge role in factories and farms and are an important part of the US labor market. This is undeniable. fact.
Workers are afraid of the way the authorities handle it, but companies that profit from their labor are not held accountable. Based on the Information Disclosure Act, the Federal Government Information Institute, affiliated with Syracuse University in New York, tracks and monitors the activities of the US government. According to judicial records, the Institute found that few employers were pursued by the authorities. There were only 7 prosecutions against illegal immigrant employers who committed crimes, involving 11 individual employers and 0 enterprises.
However, there are also objections that the judicial prosecution takes a certain amount of time. These data are not sufficient to prove that the judiciary is partial to the employer. A media spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau once said: “The Law Enforcement Bureau began a surveillance investigation of thousands of employers across the country two years ago.”
Without illegal immigrants from places like Mexico, American agriculture will not be able to develop.
Unless there is evidence to prove that the company “knows that workers are illegal immigrants, but still hired”, otherwise they do not need to bear any legal responsibility. But in the vast majority of cases, illegal immigrants will submit false identity certificates and employment qualifications to employers. It is not easy to prove that employers “knowingly commit crimes”. The result is that the illegal workers mentioned above are arrested without the employer being responsible.
Those with high status are not sanctioned
Lawyer Alan Ola works for many companies with immigration problems. He said: “Generally speaking, employers can receive search notices issued by the authorities in advance and prepare relevant documents in advance. Moreover, if the authorities are When challenged, the employer will immediately dismiss him. Because if he’knows that the employee has problems and continues to hire, he will be subject to high civil fines.’
In recent years, in order to punish employers who violated the law, the US government began to implement civil fines. According to the report of the US Bureau of Investigation, from 2009 to 2014, the annual civil fines imposed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau increased 11 times, and the total fines in 2014 were 16.27 million US dollars.
Jay Gafki, a lawyer in North Carolina, often deals with migrant workers’ compensation for work-related injuries. Most of the employers he has contacted with are fully aware that the employees are illegal residents. He said: “Some employers are hiring each other because they know that the other party is an illegal worker and cannot apply for compensation.”
However, business owners may not be aware that there are illegal immigrants among their employees. In many cases, “knowingly perpetrators” are middle-level managers of the company, and it is very difficult to hold them accountable. Ola said: “In this case, no matter what industry, the judicial decision is the same. People with low social status are arrested, and people with high status can pay a fine.”
However, faced with the criticism that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau does not prosecute employers, Brian Cox, a spokesman for the law enforcement agency, believes that “this is nonsense.” According to Cox, the Homeland Security Investigation Department of the Law Enforcement Bureau has always actively punished employers in accordance with the law. In July last year, a whistleblower claimed that a meat processing plant in Tennessee used cash to pay illegal immigrants in the past 20 years to avoid source taxes. After investigation, the factory owner was eventually sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison.
Prosperity is more important than reform
Cox also pointed out that in the 2018 fiscal year, the Law Enforcement Bureau prosecuted 72 “employers who knowingly committed crimes” who hired illegal immigrants. However, the number of punished employers is basically the same as the previous year, and the number of illegal immigrant workers arrested has increased several times.
Former officials of the Department of Homeland Security who interviewed anonymously said that for many years, the government’s approach to illegal immigration in the labor market has remained unchanged, and no federal-level system reforms have been implemented. He said: “The current practice of the relevant departments is no different from that of Bush and Obama. The Department of Homeland Security submitted the case to the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice judged whether to pursue the case. No matter how seriously the Department of Homeland Security investigates, as long as the investigation target is finalized with the Department of Justice The prosecution priorities are inconsistent, so you can only give way to them.”
However, the imbalance and complexity of criminal prosecution is only the tip of the iceberg. Over the past few decades, illegal immigrants living in the United States have indeed increased, but the Federal Parliament has neglected to build an inclusive immigration system, leaving illegal immigrants contributing to society still in an unstable state of life.
The experts interviewed, regardless of whether they are immigrant advocates, pointed out without exception that the current immigration system in the United States is fundamentally flawed and has little effect. The reform of the system for accepting immigrants has not been promoted, and the shortage of manpower in the manual labor market is also intensifying, especially in agriculture. For example, in 2017, the total employment of the agricultural and food industry was less than 22 million, accounting for only 11% of the total workforce of the United States.
Jeremy Mackini, executive member of the National Association of Immigration Lawyers, said: “Generally speaking, the law of supply and demand will prevail over the legal provisions in black and white. Now politicians and members of parliament do not hesitate to use the black market.”
According to statistics from the US Department of Labor, 49% of agricultural workers are immigrants who are not eligible for legal employment. Most of them leave their homes and do not have US social security qualifications. Employers only provide them with the minimum medical and accommodation expenses. In this respect, employers must know that they are illegal workers and conceal this fact.
The former official of the Department of Homeland Security who interviewed anonymously said: “Employers provide shelter and transportation for illegal workers engaged in agricultural work to create a working environment for them. At the same time, workers must also face low wages and working hours Too long and other problems. The meager salary is difficult to meet their expenses in all aspects, and it is difficult to have savings.”
So, are these illegal workers part of American agriculture? The former official gave a positive answer. Lawyer Mackini emphasized that no matter what angle you stand in, under the current unfair system, it will always be the workers who suffer, and the employer is rarely accountable. “Everyone can see that the immigration system in the United States is breaking down, and this kind of breakdown is happening in the law enforcement of employment.” Makiini sighed, “In the past, employers will not be prosecuted according to law, and the system has failed to function. Its due effect is that the relevant procedures take a long time and the fine is low. However, this broken system is applied to the workers.”
In August 2019, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency arrested 680 illegal immigrants in Mississippi.
Distrust law or government
The government has difficulty moving between economic development (seriously understaffed) and immigration regulations (eviction of illegal immigrants), and illegal residents who are engaged in agricultural labor have to travel with danger. After the arrest of illegal workers at a food factory in Mississippi, they have not been able to meet with their families. Volunteer group lawyer Emilia Magwen’s group helped them.
The incident reminded her of the 2006 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau search. At that time, the police seized six Swift meat processing plants and arrested 130 migrant workers. This incident left a shadow on the immigrant community. Magwen said that once the reported immigrants were sensitive to policy injustice, they would communicate with other immigrants. “Why do we work so hard for this society for so many years?” They gradually realized that the US government’s The spearhead is not directed at the employer, but at themselves.
If illegal immigrants are willing to assist the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau in investigating the illegal behavior of employers, they have the opportunity to obtain legal residency, but many workers do not trust the government. In fact, in order to make it easier for these illegal immigrants to repatriate, the Trump administration even changed the relevant legal regulations. “According to the current regulations, individuals who assist the authorities in search can obtain legal protection, but this legal clause does not apply to illegal residents.” Now, even if Makini helps the authorities recruit volunteer volunteers, no one registers. Immigrants are afraid that they will be arrested if they come forward.
Magwen said that after the Mississippi report, people became more uneasy. They worry that similar things will happen in the future.
Of course, it is only unidentified workers who feel uneasy, and employers can still do business in peace of mind.