I kind of have to laugh at this.
A few weeks ago I commented about the new Department of Homeland Security plan to start major crackdowns on employers who hire undocumented workers. A few restaurant people I talked to laughed it off, thinking it would never happen. People on the immigration forum were scared. Many have filed petitions for their undocumented spouses, but won’t have an interview for a year or more. What would they do if their husband or wife lost their job?
I was torn between feeling that the plan seemed utterly plausible and also extremely improbable. The Bush Administration is not even foolish enough to think waves of firings – resulting in loss of employment for hundreds of thousands of parents, renters, homeowners, farmhands, cooks and maids would be a good thing for our economy right now. Some suggested this was a scare tactic – a way to frighten enough Congresspeople into passing a reform that would allow a path to legalization for the millions of undocumented workers currently in the U.S.
And as much as the sort of people who have been commenting on my short and somewhat random Journal Sentinel column from today believe that we should just start getting rid of all these “criminals,” even the Bush administration knows better. That’s probably why they cooked up this scheme – create a lot of media attention around a crackdown that will never actually do anything, because – oh my goodness – its main enforcement tactic is illegal. Ha! Gotcha!
Of course, a quick Google search results in hundreds of news stories in all the major papers from the days in early August after DHS actually announced their new plan. Most Americans who read newspapers and listen to television news probably saw those stories. Most probably thought – “Yes! The government is doing its job – enforcing existing laws – punishing the lawbreakers who are ruining our country! Yeehaw!”
A second Google search finds only a few articles, in smaller papers, revealing the truth — that Social Security is actually not allowed to alert the Department of Homeland Security (the agency that would theoretically be doling out fines for non-compliant employers) about the mis-matches because of IRS privacy laws.
Basically, none of this enforcement is actually going to happen. Smoke and mirrors. Just like I should have expected.