This is why we cannot have “comprehensive” immigration reform — even when we enforce the law, we don’t really enforce the law: As an inspector general’s report documents, fines for businesses found to have knowingly employed illegal immigrants are routinely and drastically reduced. In fact, those fines are cut by an average of 40 percent.
This audit confirms what I’ve found in reviewing ICE audit records obtained through FOIA,” [Jessica] Vaughan [of the Center for Immigration Studies] said in an email. “Some field offices are conducting worksite enforcement (albeit on a tight leash) as if they actually mean to deter and punish illegal employment. Others do not take it seriously and are just going through the motions. Their goal is to rack up enough audits so that the administration can use the numbers to claim that it is vigorously enforcing the law.
Credible enforcement must precede any normalization of the status of illegals currently in the country. In fact, it needs to precede it by a margin of some years in order for the federal government to earn any trust on the issue. Currently, Americans have very little trust in the federal government when it comes to enforcing immigration law, because the government has been untrustworthy.
Rather than giving these businesses sweetheart deals on their federal fines, we should be frog-marching a few of their executives off to prison. They are the real villains in the story. While mass immigration of low-skilled workers from Latin America is undesirable, we hardly blame those who come for seeking better lives for themselves and their families. They are criminals, to be sure, but the real criminals are those who hire them, flouting U.S. law and exploiting the vulnerable position of the illegals. Let’s see a few of those guys doing 24 months in Jesup or La Tuna before we talk about how rigorously we’re enforcing the law.