Federal Raids Against Immigrants on the Rise
By David Bacon
While the criminalization of undocumented people in Arizona
continues to draw headlines, the actual punishment of workers
because of their immigration status has become an
increasingly bitter fact of life across the country. The
number of workplace raids carried out by the Obama
administration is staggering. Tens, maybe even hundreds of
thousands of workers have been fired for not having papers.
According to public records obtained by Syracuse University,
the latest available data from the Justice Department show
that criminal immigration enforcement by the two largest
investigative agencies within the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) has increased to levels comparable to the
highest seen during the Bush Administration. Homeland
Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that almost 400,000
people were deported last year, the highest number in the
But deportations are only part of the story. Much less
visible is the other arm of current immigration enforcement
policy — the firing of workers. The justification is brutal
— if immigrant workers can’t work, and therefore can’t eat,
pay rent, or provide for their families, they’ll have no
alternative but to leave the country.
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