With an estimated 12 million to 15 million illegal immigrants in the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) certainly has a lot on its plate. However, many are now criticizing ICE for its lack of action not against illegal immigrants, but American citizens.
In raids since October 2007, ICE has arrested 3,750 people on charges in relation to illegal immigrants in the workplace. With jobs in the U.S. being a great attraction to illegal immigrants, their prevalence in the American workforce is a grave problem. However, this is not the issue many are addressing; rather, critics are citing the fact that only 2% of those arrested were the employers of illegal immigrants. As justification, ICE has cited the fact that it is much easier and quicker to build evidence against and try illegal immigrants, while the same can take years for employers.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff himself defends this “two-tiered practice” for the same reasons in a recent Houston Chronicle article. Nevertheless, both illegal employees and those who employ them are a problem in the United States.
The Social Security “No Match” Sharing for Immigration Enforcement program offers answers to problems in workplace enforcement. What the program would do is allow the sharing of information with DHS by the Social Security Administration of the agency’s no-match data. Such information would help DHS to effectively target an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce. However, what the above critics would celebrate is that DHS would now have the information to target the employers of these illegal immigrants.
With the knowledge of where new workers’ personal information did not match SSA records, DHS could go after major employers in those sectors of the economy that employee the majority of illegal immigrants and “wean employers from the shadow workforce.” Workplace enforcement needs to be further addressed, however it needs to be done in an effective manner through SSA-DHS “no match” information sharing.