Thursday, December 14, 2006

forcing Congress's hand

The NY Times reports on the recent immigration raids on meatpacking plants in the West:

Homeland security officials emphasized that only the company’s workers — not the company — had been charged with wrongdoing, though the investigation is continuing. They said Swift’s situation demonstrated the need for a temporary worker program, such as the one advocated by President Bush, to ensure that companies have access to foreign workers.

Looks as if the government is consciously using enforcement as a tool to push for legislative change—acknowledging that the system is broken and applying the law in such a way as to get maximum pushback from both immigrant advocates and the business community. Businesses will lose money; meanwhile families will be separated and lives destroyed. It is certainly messy, but will it work? Even if many of the most extreme anti-immigrant Republicans lost in the recent election, it seems that some Democrats who won office also took a hard line on immigration. There’s no guarantee that the Democrats will put the immigration issue high on their priority list once they take control of Congress. Also, is the administration really pushing for productive change to the system (albeit through cruel and hamhanded measures), or is it simply trying to salvage what little credibility it has left on immigration with conservatives?

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