While authorities are attempting to crack down on these activities, the vastness of the industry and the lack of enforcement at the business level have overwhelmed them. The rings pervade existing state offices; in Florida, Michigan and Maryland, several of the 52 arrested for providing fake documentation to illegal immigrants were working in the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. In Mississippi, two individuals were arrested for creating packets of fake identity documents for members of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic terrorist group (Bower, 2006).
Recently, Homeland Security officials have asked congress to pass laws to allow ICE officials access to the Social Security databases arguing that millions of workers have presented false SSNs to their employers. “One of the key challenges that supports illegal migration is abuse of our Social Security system and the Social Security document,” Department of Homeland Security official Chertoff said during a news conference.
CHertoff hopes that this initiative can “identify and remove criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and other immigration violators in the country; build strong worksite enforcement and compliance programs to deter illegal employment; and uproot criminal infrastructure domestically and abroad that supports illegal immigration, criminal trafficking and document or benefits fraud” (Strohm, 2006). Another area in which immigration laws are disregarded or even completely ignored is in the hiring practices of American business.
Many lament that Congress has “consistently failed to adequately fund work-site enforcement provisions and create employer penalties” which has translated into what is called a jobs magnet, drawing more and more illegal immigrants to the US (Boatwright, 2006). Because of the aforementioned reluctance of local and state governments to address businesses who knowingly hire illegal workers and the inability for the federal government to be in all places at once, businesses have basically been exploiting these low wage workers for their own benefit. In response, the Minutemen Movement was born.
Founder Jim Gilchrist state, “If we can take one big employer down — handcuffs, federal prison terms, their property seized — we will make a great step forward toward having our laws enforced” (MacMillan, Crocket, and Palmeri, 2006). This Minuteman movement began two years ago and uses volunteers to labor-oriented businesses in states that border Mexico. They report individuals and businesses, including Wal-Mart and Home Depot, routinely as possibly violating law. While few of these reports actually end in arrests, their notoriety is gaining attention.
These activists hope to use this exposure to break the political deadlock in Congress over the illegal immigrant issue (MacMillan, Crocket, and Palmeri, 2006). In addition to the disregard for the legal system generally and for the growth of identity theft and false documents specifically, the influx of illegal immigrants now affects the national identity in ways that it did not in the 1950s. Boatwright (2006) argues that because of the concentration of Spanish-speaking immigrants from South and Central America, the balance of identity has been thrown askew.
She claims that these peoples do not assimilate into the society as their 1950s predecessors did, instead choosing to form their own enclaves: “Furthermore, illegal immigration can interfere with the preservation of national common identity. Because immigration law embodies a country's idea of itself, high rates of illegal immigration can upset the control mechanisms by which that identity is formulated, particularly if the influx is from a small number of countries. Illegal immigration can contribute to the formation of enclaves and ultimately prevent assimilation into the receiving country's culture” (Boatwright, 2006).
While the immigrants of the 1950s attempt to become American citizens in every sense of the word, these new immigrants seem to want to remain to themselves. A final issue related to the unfettered influx of illegal immigrants involves national security. Boatwright (2006) argues that continuing this practice can pave the way for future terrorist activity. She notes, “The 9/11 Commission recognized how an enormous illegal immigrant population, along with its attendant need for fraudulent identification documents, could provide cover for potential terrorists.
” She goes on to explain that the southern US border is a confirmed point of terrorist entry. She concludes by saying that many individuals and government officials alike “now see enforcement of immigration law as part and parcel of counterterrorism measures, to which Congress has belatedly begun to dedicate significant federal resources” (Boatwright, 2006). The numbers of illegal individuals in the US does pose a significant threat to US security in addition to the issues of legality and national identity presented earlier. Indeed the federal government has begun to take baby steps to solving the problem.
While deportation has been seen as a type of dirty word, it is necessary to keep this problem from compounding in future years. The ICE is increasing the numbers of its agents and is beginning to focus on targeting the organized identity crime that has arisen including attempting to locate those businesses that are playing into these crimes (Strohm, 2006). In addition, the federal government has recently advocated the right for local and state governments to set policy for illegal immigration and pledges support for these efforts (Boatwright, 2006).
Finally, it seems that the government is finally getting the picture that cheap labor and lower prices is not worth the damage to the attitude and identity of American citizens. Republican Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado argues against the apparent status quo in which illegal immigrants seem to be judged by different and lower legal standards. “An illegal alien actually has a different system of justice here,” he remarked to South Carolina law enforcement officers, concluding by “If you're here illegally, you can get a pass” (Tangredo, 2005).
Americans are becoming alarmed at both the high numbers of illegal immigrants in this country and by the violations of laws and potential issues of national security that they can bring. Even though forcing illegal immigrants to become legal or leave the country may seem cruel or racist, it is essential to ask that all citizens live by the same laws of this country. Illegal immigrants currently residing in the US should be brought to justice.
Boatright, L. R.. (2006). Clear Eye for the State Guy: Clarifying Authority and Trusting Federalism to Increase Nonfederal Assistance with Immigration Enforcement.
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