Magazine August 13, 2018, Issue

The Border at Work

Border-patrol agents in Tucson, Ariz., December 15, 2011 (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via Reuters)
How feckless presidents, hypocritical congressmen, and a left­­–right coalition sabotaged the immigration reform of 1986

The year was 2007. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) performed a sudden raid at a factory in New Bedford, Mass., that sewed rucksacks and ammunition pouches for the U.S. military. Despite a local unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, the factory owners had recruited unauthorized Central American immigrants, provided them with phony identification papers, paid them the minimum wage or less, manipulated records to deny overtime pay, and imposed sweatshop conditions including $20 fines for bathroom breaks longer than two minutes. “Now I understand how they kept outbidding me,” said a competitor.

Nonetheless, a storm of protest erupted against ICE and its

Jerry KammerMr. Kammer is a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and is writing a book about the failures of IRCA.

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