Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will continue once again, but will focus on specific targets, including workplace employers “who consistently and intentionally use and exploit the labor market for their own gain.”
Napolitano says there will be no halt to arrests of illegal workers their investigations uncover, but ICE agents will primarily target employers found to be in violation of labor laws, Los Angeles-based La Opinión reports.
Earlier this month, Napolitano ordered ICE agents to cease all workplace investigations into illegals while new ICE guidelines for operational protocol were being reviewed by DHS.
At a rally in San Francisco last month, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., condemned ICE raids, touted amnesty and a path for legalization for illegal immigrants, and told the crowd of illegal aliens and advocates for immigration reform that enforcement of existing immigration laws on illegal aliens is "un-American," the Associated Press reports.
Increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers signals a change in tactics for ICE, a senior department official tells the Washington Post.
"ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done," the official tells The Post.
Napolitano's moves foreshadow the difficult political decisions the administration faces in its efforts to combat illegal immigration and legislate immigration reform.
Work-site raids –– a signature of the Bush administration to combat illegal immigration–– have enraged the Latin American population, community leaders, civil liberties and religious groups, and immigrant advocates, which has put pressure on President Barack Obama to stop them.
Napolitano’s plan has DHS agents focusing on prosecuting criminal cases of wrongdoing by companies and enforcement of civil infractions of worker eligibility verification rules.
“There is a supply side and a demand side," a DHS official tells the Los Angeles Times.
"Like other law enforcement philosophies, there is a belief that by focusing more on the demand side, you cut off the supply."
Legislation on immigration reform is expected as early as this fall.
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