The Bush administration unveiled Thursday what it said is a new strategy aimed at companies employing illegal immigrants, illustrating it with a crackdown on the German-based firm IFCO Systems.The novel strategy is to vigorously enforce the law. Maybe the critics were wrong about Myers. Not Harriet, Julie. Michelle Malkin derided her for not being experienced in immigration enforcement, calling Myers a "clueless crony" and excerpting that her nomination prompted "sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates, and homeland security experts." The former two are concerned that she might be a change of pace. And the latter--well, if I had a little more wanderlust and cash I'd love to head down to Mexico with some friends and make a documentary of our group crossing into the US illegally. Their unease sparks hope. Thus far Myers pleases:
Law enforcement officials will "use all the tools we have, whether it be criminal enforcement or immigration laws to break the back" of businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants, said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff at a news conference.
"We are turning away from focusing only on civil liability," Myers told CNN. "It used to be in these cases that they amounted mainly to a slap on the wrist or a small civil fine. We're now focusing on criminal cases and bringing as many criminal charges as we can when we find employers that blatantly violate worksite enforcement laws."Finding them should not be hard. Mastercard and Visa can deactivate cards instantaneously. They will shut you down if you're not following their rules. A social security database should allow ICE the same leverage against employers who try to run defunct or false social security numbers.
This new move comes as a surprise, but it wasn't inconceivable. Nothing is in the immigration debate, where politicians are even more capricious than usual:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean yesterday called border security his party's top immigration priority for November.Dean isn't popular in the Democratic establishment. His pugent rhetoric easily allows him to be portrayed as a fringe extremist by Republicans, even though his history doesn't bare that out. Vermont is without Hispanics or immigrants--it is not southern California. Dean's abrupt entry onto the national scene came from internet boosters and college activists. The La Razas and Archer Farms of the world don't have him in-pocket.
"The first thing we want is tough border control," he said. "We have to do a much better job on our borders than George Bush has done. And then we can go to the policy disagreements about how to get it done."
A Gallup Poll of 1,004 Americans this month found that 81 percent think illegal immigration to the United States is out of control and that 79 percent think it's extremely or very important for the government to take steps this year to halt the flood of illegal aliens.Of course Dean's words are politically expedient. But his concern for working-class natives is a refreshing break from the trashing they receive on a regular basis from both parties:
"We don't like guest-worker programs," said Mr. Dean, a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. "I don't like guest-worker programs. I think the president's guest-worker program is essentially indentured servitude. It doesn't help the immigrant, and it threatens wages."...He is right. The war in Iraq has consumed the political debate for the last four years. But the quagmire and the bromides that accompany it have lost their luster. There's little new to add. Conservatives are coming to terms with how nothing they stand for has been accomplished in the last half-decade and they are rebelling. Working class Democrats (of Pew's three Republican-leaning and three Democrat-leaning typologies, the two strongest opponents of guest working came from the Democratic side) and blacks are getting hammered by the Hispanic underclass importation. The open-border goons can only respond to charges that underclass immigration causes unnecessary pollution, depresses wages, lowers the nation's average IQ, destroys school systems, stresses infrastructure, increases crime, decreases housing affordability, creates communication barriers, and brings in atavistic diseases with brunamagem claptrap about a "land of immigrants" (how'd that turn out for the Native Americans, by the way?) and "jobs Americans won't do" (Econ 101 is not a prerequisite for uttering such nonsense).
"Don't forget -- the Republicans have been in power for five years. They've had the House and Senate and the White House most of that time. And they have done nothing about immigration."
Immigration reform is unique in that public support for it spans political, economic (to a point), and racial lines, while at the same time being resisted across the spectrum of the political class. It is the quintessential populist issue. The more vociferous the public is, the more the elites are forced to react. They try to ignore and confuse the issue as much as possible, occasionally throwing out bones to try and placate the rabble.
This enforcement is a good thing. IFCO has both a market cap and an annual revenue of nearly $500 million. It will create anxiety in larger companies that fear they might be zapped next. But the move should have us asking why more isn't being done rather than relieve pressure on the Bush Administration for having finally done something salient. However, it may only be a political ploy designed to diffuse the immigrant debate while simultaneously boosting support for a guest worker amnesty that turns the illegals into legitimate residents so that no more of the mawkish videos linked to in the CNN article have to occur again in the future.
If a legitimate third party forms in the near future, immigration will be its semination. It is crucial we make it the deciding issue in November.