La Opinión, News Report, Jorge Morales Almada, Translated by Elena Shore,
Oct 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES -- In less than a year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted 1,172 worksite raids across the country. In 11 months, from Oct. 1, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2008, ICE arrested 4,956 people in these operations, of which 1,022 were either wanted for criminal charges or had a deportation order against them. Of those arrested, 116 people were owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who were accused of hiring undocumented immigrants.
Those who did not have documents to work in the country were charged with identity theft, Social Security fraud or were given an administrative charge under immigration law.
This data is limited to ICE raids on companies or factories, and does not include the organization's actions in specific neighborhoods or homes.
One of these raids was carried out May 12 in the meat processing plant Agriprocessors Inc., in Postville, Iowa, where 389 undocumented workers were reportedly detained.
According to information disclosed by ICE to The Des Moines Register in Iowa, this raid cost more than $5.2 million in research, operational and processing expenses. This figure does not include expenses by the Department of Labor or the federal attorney general.
ICE did not have data on how much has been spent on the more than 1,000 raids that have been conducted in the country between October and August.
Considering that $5.2 billion was spent in the Postville raid to detain to 389 workers - or more than $13,300 spent per detainee -then for the nearly 5,000 arrests made in more than 1,000 ICE raids, ICE would have spent an estimated $66 million.
"ICE specializes in wasting money and ruining lives," said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
"In these times of economic hardship, we need to do a better job of reviewing how they are spending tax dollars. Wasting funds and breaking apart working families are not consistent with American values. The worst part about these raids is that apart from the people who were trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time, many times they have been denied their right to due process," she added.
On Tuesday Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, told the Iowa press that ICE should enforce the law regardless of the cost to taxpayers.
"If we start saying, 'Well, it costs too much money to enforce the law,' then we will see more and more of these radical, pro-illegal immigration activists drive more wedges between us and make it harder to enforce the law," Congressman King told the Des Moines Register.
During fiscal year 2007, ICE was able to collect about $30 million in fines to employers who hired undocumented immigrants.
During the same time period, from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2007, some 4,940 immigrants were arrested, of which 863 had criminal records. About 90 of these were business owners or supervisors.
As part of their job of impeding companies from hiring undocumented immigrants who are not authorized to work in the country, ICE has updated the records of 6.5 million employees through the E-Verify program.