Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ICEd Out

With imperfect timing, federal agents raided meatpacking plant in six states, arresting hundreds of workers on the charge of identity theft. Immigration, and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents "...some dressed in riot gear, locked down six beef and pork processing plants early in the morning, segregating workers into groups of citizens and non-citizens after questioning." Besides being an unusually coordinated effort targeting people here illegally, ICE’s efforts were unique because they are charging most of these people with identity theft.

Certainly, stealing social security numbers is wrong. But what message is conveyed when people steal social security numbers for the purpose of getting a job in meatpacking plants? Anyone who has read Upton Sinclair’s "The Jungle" remembers the gory details of meatprocessing industry. While it is not as gruesome today, it is still a dirty, tough job.

What this story highlights is that there is a demand for labor that is not being fully met. There are people willing to work in those jobs, only they live across the border. Furthermore, this highlights a flawed immigration policy that is so cumbersome it discourages people from following the law. It is also a policy that is unenforceable without a significant increase in allocation of resources. Resources that we don’t have, and would probably be better spent elsewhere.

Without reasonable legal means, that are not so cumbersome and bureaucratic that it discourages people from seeking legal entry, many of the immigrants seeking blue collar jobs will continue to cross our border illegally. Cracking down on identity theft is great, but in this case it reveals the flaws of our un-American immigration laws. Un-American because our policies highlight our our most base fears, rather than our most valued principles.

1 comment:

amy said...

I hope one of these meat processing facilities did not belong to my dad.