The Obama administration's new approach to dealing with companies that hire illegal immigrants results in firings, not deportations, Fox News has confirmed.
Instead of immigration sweeps at factories and farms which used to lead to illegal workers being shipped out of the country, the administration’s new policy—government conducted audits labeled “silent raids” by employers—usually only result in the workers losing their jobs.
News of the policy change, which was first reported by The New York Times on Friday, comes just over a week after the president delivered his highly anticipated speech on immigration reform, which was criticized on both ends of the political spectrum.
Since Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security has audited more than 2,785 employers suspected of hiring illegal laborers, compared to 500 audits in all of 2008, according to Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Agency, known as ICE.
The Obama administration has debarred 105 companies and 81 individuals and issued more than $6.4 million in fines, he said.
"We are going after the root cause of illegal immigration and getting rid of the culture of compliance among employers," Chandler told Fox News.
"The Obama administration is holding employers accountable for their hiring practices through criminal prosecutions, civil and administrative tools to deter illegal employment," he said. "ICE has refocused enforcement efforts to utilize Form I-9 audits to target employers who knowingly violate the law by employing an illegal workforce."
In these audits, federal agents examine company records to find illegal workers on the payroll, forcing “businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant… not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid,” the Times reported. This makes it more difficult for companies to hire undocumented workers to fill these positions in the future, the article explained.
This year alone, ICE has facilitated the firing of thousands of immigrants and “levied a record $3 million in civil fines,” the Times reported.
This current policy is a contrast to the Bush-era work-site roundups where undocumented employees were deported en masse. It also represents the current government opinion that treating the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants as criminals would overwhelm the system.
This ideology stands at the very center of the current battle between the federal government and the state of Arizona’s new immigration law. Arizona’s law makes not carrying the appropriate immigration documents a criminal offense and gives authorities the power to detain anyone they think is an illegal immigrant. Several lawsuits—including one filed against the state by the federal government— are now pending.
View the original story from The New York Times.