Instead of making mass arrests, the U.S. is reviewing employment records at hundreds of companies nationwide in an effort to keep illegal immigrants out of the workplace. The actions mean unauthorized workers are more likely to face job loss than prison and deportation, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said this month it will review employment records at 1,000 companies to see if employers are checking identification and filling out the form I-9, meant to ensure that only people with work authorizations get jobs.
The government says it’s targeting companies that have a connection to “critical infrastructure,” such as airports and utilities. Mark Krikorian, a critic of illegal immigration, said he’d like to see the illegal immigrants arrested, not simply fired and allowed to find another job. “On the other hand, this kind of policy can do some good if it’s widespread enough and sustained for a long time,” said Krikorian, of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. Illegal immigrants might decide to go home, and others might not come at all, he said. And employers might work harder to screen employees, for instance, by enrolling in the government’s E-Verify program, he said. Some criticize the audits. After an audit led to the firings of about 1,800 workers at the Los Angeles operations of garment maker American Apparel, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the action “devastating.”