I-9 Audits Increase Under Obama Administration

While President Obama has moved away from the controversial workplace raids that characterized the Bush era of immigration enforcement, the Obama administration has ramped up audits on employers that hire illegal immigrants. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is now relying heavily on civil complaints and fines to threaten companies found to hire significant numbers of illegal immigrants. In a prominent case last year, American Apparel ended up firing some 1,800 immigrant employees — about a quarter of its workforce — after an ICE investigation found irregularities in identity documents. The rationale is that such crackdowns will help deter companies from hiring illegal immigrants — and curb exploitative labor practices that result in low wages and poor working conditions for immigrants. This week, Fox News seized upon a new report that arrests and deportation of illegal immigrations taken into custody at work sites has dropped more than 80 percent from George W. Bush’s last year in office. Fox News cites one former Bush official who slammed the approach as “de facto amnesty,” accusing the Obama administration of “turning a blind eye to entire categories of aliens” fand failing to arrest and deport the illegal immigrants who turn up on these workplace audits. But even if tougher immigration enforcement is the goal, simply arresting and deporting these immigrant workers en masse doesn’t seem to be a sensible policy solution

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