Commentary: Immigration reform must include raids

This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.

A work-site raid at a Bellingham plant this week could be a boon to the cause of immigration reform.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials raided Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. on Tuesday, arresting 28 workers and sending most of them to Tacoma's immigration detention center to await deportation.

But it's the field agents, not the illegal workers, who are coming under the greatest scrutiny.

The Bellingham raid was the first since President Obama took office and the first since he nominated Janet Napolitano to Homeland Security secretary. Apparently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers forgot they have new bosses who view immigration enforcement differently than their predecessors.

On Wednesday, Napolitano told Congress that the raid surprised her as much as it did Yamato Engine owners and workers. Napolitano was none too happy about that, given that both she and president have pledged to put more emphasis on going after rogue employers than illegal workers.

Immigrant advocates are eager for Obama to deliver on his pledge to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority. Now, in the face of evidence that the Bush administration's enforcement regime lives on, they are turning up the heat.

Whatever it takes. U.S. immigration policy is a mess and overdue for an overhaul. The status quo benefits no one – save perhaps the business owners who are able to exploit cheap labor.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.

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