ICE may finally be targeting employers

The next major ICE operation sounds promising, assuming the sources for this article from the Daily Beast have got their story straight. Up until now most of the major operations we’ve seen launched this year had to do with tracking down and rounding up criminal illegal aliens individually. But now the agency’s attention may be turning to a different group of people who have long flown under the radar: employers who knowingly employ illegal aliens, frequently abusing them by paying them slave wages and offering no benefits. The industry where this is most prevalent and supposedly the target of this operation is involved in food services.

The current plan is focused on employers who exploit undocumented workers by illegally paying them below the minimum wage. The operation will target locations around the country and will likely result in charges of “harboring illegal aliens,” according to an ICE official.

“These people are basically being used as slave labor,” said the official, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because he was not permitted to discuss impending operations on the record.

The plans detailed in the document are the strongest indication to date that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are increasing what’s called “worksite enforcement”—meaning, efforts to prosecute people who employ undocumented immigrants. As with all complex law enforcement operations, there’s a chance this one is altered or even scuttled. If it does go according to plan, however, it will be the first major worksite enforcement action of an administration that has promised to prioritize this core ICE mission.

They cite one recent report which claims that nearly ten percent of the food service workers in the United States are undocumented. That sounds shockingly high, but I suppose it’s possible.

The real story here, however, isn’t just the number of illegal aliens who can be found working in these places and presumably deported. It’s the far-reaching effect this could have on the entire border security situation. We’ve been discussing this here for years, but it’s absolutely worth repeating. Until there’s a much better wall along the southern border, simply finding and kicking out illegal aliens isn’t going to make much of a dent in the problem. What would really make a difference is removing (or at least seriously decreasing) the incentive for them to cross the border to begin with.

That’s where an operation such as the one proposed here could pay off in a big way. As I’ve predicted in the past, the first time a major employer winds up standing in front of a judge in an orange jumpsuit and being handed a ten year sentence, the hiring of illegal aliens will plummet overnight. And when the word gets around that there are no jobs to be had, many of those thinking of jumping the border will have second thoughts and probably stay home. You don’t need the same massive level of enforcement resources if far fewer people are coming in.

As we’ve seen already this year, when ICE is really motivated to get into gear they can roll out a nationwide effort in fairly short order. Here’s hoping that they manage to pull it off again this time. And if you want to see just how effective they can be, check out this brief video from ABC covering one sweep where they picked up more than 100 people in very short order.