Ending Workplace Immigration Raids Ensures Record Border Surge Will Continue

Ending Workplace Immigration Raids Ensures Record Border Surge Will Continue

Despite excuses about targeting employers or the need for more workers, Biden’s decision makes it clear that the administration has stopped enforcing immigration laws.
Jonathan S. Tobin
By

Since January, the Biden administration has occasionally pretended to try to slow the record-breaking surge of illegal immigrants across the U.S. southern border. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (the person who is allegedly in charge of the government’s response to a crisis that no one in the administration will call a crisis) have urged any Central Americans planning to illegally cross into the United States to stay home.

Those tepid appeals have been drowned out, however, by the president halting the border wall, limiting the government’s ability to stop, arrest, or deport illegally present foreign citizens, and demonizing those charged with enforcing the laws. The result has been an increase in illegal immigration since the November election, when Biden pledged to overturn former President Donald Trump’s efforts to try to solve the problem.

The surge has now grown to a point the numbers of those arrested trying to cross the border is at an all-time high. More than 1.7 million illegal border crossers were arrested in the fiscal year that ended in September, with the number spiking under Biden’s presidency. More than 200,000 migrants were detected during the sweltering summer months of July and August, when the flow of illegal crossers usually slows because the dangers of the crossing are worse.

While those numbers partly reflect the large number of crossers sent back who keep trying to get into the United States until they succeed, they don’t include the enormous numbers of those who evade the beleaguered Border Patrol officers. Officials estimate that number at approximately 1,000 a day, and some experts estimate it’s closer to 2,000 per day.

Biden Doubles Down on Ignoring the Law

Rather than respond to these staggering statistics with measures that would disabuse potential border crossers of their hopes of a path to U.S. citizenship, as promised by Democrats, the Biden administration is doubling down on efforts to ensure the laws are not enforced. That was made clear earlier this month when the administration announced federal authorities would no longer be conducting worksite raids at places illegal immigrants are suspected to be employed.

The leftist press commonly describes the raids as a heartless tactic in stories sympathetically portraying those illegally working at factories and other large businesses as victims. But they have not only led to arrests of illegal immigrants but have also often revealed their exploitation from employers who treat them poorly without any fear of being reported.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas justified the halt in the raids by saying that the U.S. government would instead focus on efforts to find and punish “unscrupulous employers.” Yes, the government should hold accountable employers who hire and then abuse illegals. But prosecuting employers is easier said than done because it’s difficult to prove they knew the documents their “undocumented” workers used were fake.

Flawed Argument against Workplace Raids

While advocates for ignoring U.S. immigration laws claim the prospect of workplace raids deters those who are being exploited from reporting their plight to authorities, that is a farcical notion. While no one likes being abused, these workers’ understandable calculation is that they are better off being paid below the minimum wage without benefits in dangerous conditions than either not working or going back to their countries of origin.

Claiming that removing the threat of the raids will make it more likely that illegal workers turn in their employers is both illogical and disingenuous. A better explanation for the administration’s decision is a desire to avoid decreasing the workforce at a time the government’s Covid stimulus and unemployment policies have reduced incentives for citizens to go back to work, especially in unskilled jobs.

The virtues of sacrificing the rule of law for the sake of an economy that the government’s pandemic policies has crippled can be debated, but the signal this measure sends to potential illegal U.S. entrants can’t be mistaken. It’s not just that Biden and Democrats have promised amnesty and made it easier for foreign citizens to stay in the country, as well as to spirit them away from the scrutiny at the border, as The New York Post reported. Ending the raids also tells them that once they establish themselves inside the United States, they no longer have to fear being arrested at work, the place where it is easiest for law enforcement to find them.

In 2018 a Yale University study estimated the actual number of illegal immigrants living in the United States could be double or more the dubious 11 million figure commonly cited in the press. At the current rate of border captures and evasions, it may now be far higher.

The administration’s commitment to step-by-step dismantling the infrastructure of immigration enforcement is no longer in question. Neither is the most important question whether Chris Magnus, Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, will call the situation at the border a “crisis.” The question is whether the renewed surge of illegal immigrants that is likely to continue through the fall and winter will further overwhelm border communities and thereby cause serious political consequences for Democrats.

Jonathan S. Tobin is a senior contributor to The Federalist, editor in chief of JNS.org, and a columnist for the New York Post. Follow him on Twitter at @jonathans_tobin.

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