GOP wants return to workplace immigration raids

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

GOP Congressmen are calling on President Obama to return to large-scale workplace raids to round up and deport illegal immigrants--even though the Obama administration conducted a record number of deportations last year.

The new chair of a congressional immigration subcommittee, Rep. Elton Gallegly, said the lack of worker deportations are represents a "grave disservice to American workers," reports to the Ventura County Star.

The Obama White House has deported more illegal immigrants in one fiscal year than any other presidency has in recent history, even resorting to unorthodox tactics in the rush to beat their deportation record. The administration's focus, however, has been on deporting people with criminal records or people who have been arrested for any crime.

Workplace raids have dropped 70 percent since President George W. Bush's last two years in office, and the Obama administration says it prefers to concentrate on punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants instead of the workers themselves via investigations and fines.

Under Obama, ICE officials quadrupled the number of companies they audited for immigration-related offenses, The Los Angeles Times reports. Protesters chained themselves outside of a Minnesota Chipotle restaurant this month after the company fired workers in advance of an ICE audit, The Wall Street Journal reports.

An anonymous law enforcement official told the LA Times that workplace raids are unnecessarily expensive, with some of the 2007 and 2008 raids costing $10 million. In 2008, ICE agents sent nearly 500 workers in a Mississippi electronics factory to a detention center in what they called the largest workplace raid in history.

But deportation in general is expensive, no matter how the agency goes about it. ICE Deputy Director Kumar Kibble told the House immigration subcommittee yesterday that it cost the government $5 billion to deport 393,000 people from the United States last year. On average, each deportation costs $12,500.

(Family members of Swift & Co. meatpacking workers, who were deported in a 2006 raid: AP.)