Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

ICEing the White House

Rev. David L. Ostendorf • Jul 15, 2009

Let’s face it. With the expansion of the 287(g) program, the new employer audit initiative, the growth of the Border Patrol, and the relentless, unconscionable construction of the border fence, the Obama Administration has completely succumbed to the ICE (and Democratic Party) enforcement agenda.

The new and expanded agreements that enable local and state law enforcement agencies to act as ICE surrogates build on a program (287(g))that has wreaked havoc across the country. In those jurisdictions where the agreements prevail, no immigrant has been safe from zealous law officers who turn a minor traffic stop, for example, into a wider deportation roundup. Instead of curbing the practice, the White House is expanding it into even more jurisdictions.

As if that were not enough, the Administration has informed 652 businesses suspected of hiring undocumented workers that they are on a “Notice of Inspection” list to determine if they are complying with employment eligibility laws and regulations—a move that will result in increased pressure to rid the workforce of anyone remotely thought to be undocumented. This shift from massive worker raids to employer inspections is little more than a politically-driven, public relations ruse to prevent more bad press generated by the military-style assaults previously carried out by ICE. The sheer number of businesses notified surpasses all those inspected during the last year of the Bush Administration.

The human impact of these enforcement policies—in addition to a ramped-up Border Patrol and the insidious border fence—is staggering. The stories of unwarranted detention, broken families, parentless children, and injuries and deaths are legion. It is not unusual for immigrants to disappear without notification to anyone as they are caught up in the diabolical law enforcement net, shipped to distant detention centers, and provided no legal counsel. Welcome to Fortress America, 2009. Welcome to a nation where the base principles of the anti-immigrant movement are now in place through a federal enforcement regime advanced by alleged “reformers” utterly indifferent to the human and community costs of their draconian measures.

For a President grounded in sacred writings, perhaps there might be a reminder from the Hebrew prophets about the gravity of this matter. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, Jeremiah admonished; Malachi’s searing words warned of swift retribution to those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, who thrust aside the alien.

But more to the point, and more to this time, perhaps the day is upon us for widespread direct action to counter this enforcement regime. Perhaps our organizer-President, his Director of the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security, and the Democratic Party will comprehend the seriousness of the situation they are now abetting if there is less talk and more organized grassroots response. There is only one way to find out.

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