News & Politics

ICE Raids at Mississippi Poultry Plants Become Political Flashpoint

(Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

What’s being called the largest immigration enforcement action in a decade occurred in Mississippi as seven poultry processing plants were raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. About 680 illegal immigrants were arrested. About 300 have already been released with more to follow.

ICE says the companies that employed the illegal aliens were “willfully and unlawfully” employing people without proper work documentation. The travesty is that the owners and management team who knowingly employed the illegals will likely get off with a slap on the wrist — or less.

BuzzFeed:

While hundreds of suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested Wednesday in a series of workplace raids that split up families and left communities terrified, their employers went home as if it were any other business day.

Federal authorities haven’t said whether the employers of the 680 people detained in Mississippi in one of the largest worksite operations ever conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement will face criminal charges or even fines for hiring the workers, but the likelihood of their facing prosecution is slim.

The very best way to deter illegal immigration has nothing to do with building a wall or militarizing the border or hunting illegal aliens or even making E-Verify more effective. The best way to radically slow the number of illegals coming into the United States is to give employers who knowingly hire them stiff, mandatory prison sentences. Put the fear of God into employers and give them the choice of hiring dirt-cheap employees or going to jail.

As with all things immigration-related, the country is split. The right applauds the action by ICE, while the left condemns it. The different perception by both sides tells a tale of modern politics. On the left, it’s “frightened communities” and “crying children:

There’s a suggestion that the companies were targeted because the illegals were trying to organize. There were also allegations of other abuses by the company. Anything to detract from the basic, simple, uncomplicated idea that both workers and management willfully violated the laws of the United States.

Does that even count for anything anymore?

Guy Benson at Townhall gives us some welcome balance and perspective:

I believe that interior immigration enforcement should (and generally does) prioritize detaining and removing illegal immigrants who have also committed violent crimes, and those who have been deported previously.  I also believe that ICE and CPB should (and generally do) attempt to execute their duties with an eye toward compassion and humanity, particularly when children are affected.  Nobody likes seeing frightened kids crying.  That being said, enforcing the law against people whose “only” crime involves breaking our immigration statutes is not out-of-bounds.  Adults who knowingly violate US sovereignty do not get a free pass to live and work openly in America, entirely without fear of deportation.  The federal government must — at least occasionally — signal that yes, they will enforce the laws on the books.  This includes enforcement against people who are “merely” living and working illegally in the United States.  To cease this type of enforcement altogether would be irresponsible, and would serve as yet another incentive for increased illegal immigration (in addition to radical Democratic proposals).  This, in turn, would encourage more people to put themselves, and often children, at risk in order to make the extremely treacherous journey to America.  How is that humane?

What’s the alternative? The obvious alternative is to decriminalize border crossings and allow anyone and everyone who can walk, crawl, ride a bicycle, or drive a car over the border to get a job — or receive social welfare payments from the government. No control of numbers. No checks on seeing if the border crossers are a danger to Americans. That would be racist.

Eventually, the formerly illegal aliens will be made legal and become voters.

My biggest problem with this policy is the utter, nauseating hypocrisy of Democratic presidential candidates who don’t proudly embrace this policy and run on it. If Americans agree, they will become president. If not — a far more likely scenario — they will be slaughtered at the polls.

Democrats looking to decriminalize being illegal in the U.S. are either too stupid to realize the real world, practical consequences, or they know it and are counting on calling anyone who points out the poisonous ramifications of the successful implementation of the policy as “racists.”

Benson is right. We will never be able to round up 11 million illegals. But a combination of prosecuting employers who knowingly violate the law and giving them long prison sentences, as well as targeted enforcement actions as happened in Mississippi, will go a long way toward addressing the illegal immigration problem.