Back in August, ICE conducted a series of immigration raids at food processing plants in Mississippi, netting nearly 700 illegal aliens in the process. What should have been seen as a stunning victory in the battle against illegal immigration was, of course, immediately panned by congressional Democrats as some sort of heartless assault on “working people who weren’t hurting anyone.”

On Thursday, Democrats from the House Homeland Security Committee held a rare field investigation into the matter, led by the committee’s chairman, Mississippi Democrat Bennie G. Thompson. The hearing was held at Tougaloo College and they were grilling Jere Miles, the head of the Homeland Security investigative office in New Orleans. No Republicans participated in the hearing, so the Homeland Security official was mostly left on his own. Miles was accused of heartlessly going after “undocumented workers were doing no harm.” Miles quickly straightened them out. (Washington Times)

Most of the 680 illegal immigrants nabbed in August’s immigration raids at poultry plants in Mississippi worked under stolen American identities, the Department of Homeland Security’s top investigator told Congress Thursday, rebuffing Democrats who insisted the “undocumented” workers were doing no harm.

“They stole the IDs of 400 U.S. citizens,” said Jere Miles, who leads Homeland Security Investigations’ New Orleans office. “Where’s their voice?”

Mr. Miles was defending the Aug. 7 operations against seven processing plants as both a success and a deterrent to future illegal immigrants, battling with Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee who called a field hearing in Mississippi to criticize the raids.

This hearing really paints the Democrats on the committee in a bad light, but it also highlights the reality of the harm that even illegal aliens with no other substantial criminal record are doing. While Miles listed a number of the detainees who had felony records, more than half of the illegals working in those food processing plants were doing so using a false identity of an American citizen. Each of those citizens was a victim of identity theft.

This clown show very nearly spiraled out of control. At one point, as Miles was explaining the issue of the stolen ID cards, Thompson tried to cut him off, telling him to “be quiet.” Shockingly, it was one of his fellow Democrats, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who had to rush to Miles’ defense. “You won’t get me on the record saying identity theft is not important or serious,” Jackson Lee reportedly said.

The Democrats did raise one valid point during these hearings. There have been few if any successful prosecutions against the upper management of the companies who knowingly employed all these hundreds of illegal aliens for years. That’s why it’s disappointing that Republicans weren’t there to participate in the investigation. We wouldn’t have that many illegals working in this country if employers weren’t providing a magnet for them to jump the border in the form of jobs.

But the reality that Miles pointed out should be kept in mind as we wrangle over the illegal immigration debate. These are not “harmless crimes” as the Democrats try to claim. It’s very difficult to obtain any sort of steady, paying work without some form of identification. And for illegal immigrants, that frequently means committing identity theft, opening up the citizen victim to possible tax evasion charges and damage to their credit rating. Even Sheila Jackson Lee understands that much.