Our Friend Michael Chertoff?
October 13, 2008, 05:00 AM
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In the unlikely event that you missed it, ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the DHS, is on quite a roll.

Since October 1st, the following raids and arrests have been made:

  • In California, a month long sweep ended in the arrests of 1,157 aliens from 34 different countries. Many had deportation orders or criminal convictions.
     
  • In the Miami area, 116 were arrested including 74 fugitives and 42 immigration violators. 
     
  • During a week-long operation in Pennsylvania and Delaware, ICE arrested 78 immigration offenders including 26 with criminal records. They included a Mexican who had four outstanding warrants for DUI and probation violations, a Vietnamese fugitive convicted of rape and unlawful sexual contact; and a Guatemalan fugitive who had convictions for assault, offensive touching, forgery and driving under the influence. (In August, working with local police, ICE apprehended 119 aliens in the same two states.)
     
  • In New Jersey, ICE operations captured 76 aliens including 21 with criminal histories. Among them: a Cuban male convicted of a felony for possession of a controlled dangerous substance on school property, a Honduran female arrested for aggravated assault, a South Korean female arrested for promoting prostitution (pimping) and a Brazilian male arrested on multiple counts for weapon possession with unlawful intent and aggravated assault.
     
  • In South Carolina, at the Columbia Farms poultry processing plant, ICE apprehended 300 aliens. A paper work review of 825 workers found that 775 used false information including social security numbers and fraudulent alien registration cards. (In July, at the same plant, ICE arrested 12 supervisors for knowingly hiring illegal aliens.)

October`s vigorous illegal alien round up extends ICE enforcement operations conducted during previous months, all with similar results.

The arrests represent only part of the good news.

Notice the geographic distribution: the East and West coasts, the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest. For aliens and their employers the message seems clear: no matter where in America you might be breaking the law, you could be the next ICE target.

And, another plus, the aliens are from all over the globe: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, China, Ghana, Korea, Brazil and Cambodia.

Just as quickly as the word once went out in those countries that the United States is a place where an illegal alien can enter, purchase false documents, get a job and live without penalty for the rest of his life, today`s cautionary message—proceed at your own risk—will spread as fast.

ICE is stepping it up.

During 2007, 30,407 arrests were made, nearly double the number from 2006. The total for 2008 is well on its way to outpacing 2007`s figures, with 26,945 arrests made as of August 1.

Since last October, ICE has made 949 criminal arrests related to worksite enforcement investigations including 105 owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who now face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. ICE also made more than 3,500 administrative arrests for immigration violations in the workplace during the same period.

For the most brazen whose luck ran out but who felt they could ignore deportation orders, they too now live in a different world.

ICE now has 95 Fugitive Operations Teams working nationwide that have made more than 30,000 arrests this year, including over 34,000 fugitives.

Said Nuria Prendes, director of the ICE Dallas regional office: "If you ignore a judge`s order of removal, ICE will find you, arrest you, and you will be returned to your home country."[Press Release]

From Florida came the same warning.

Michael Rozos, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations said:

"ICE helps to maintain the integrity of our nation`s immigration system by identifying, arresting and removing aliens who have ignored a judge`s order to leave the country.... While we are a welcoming country, we expect those wanting to immigrate here to do so in a safe, legal and orderly manner. We will continue using all our resources to ensure that removal orders are carried out and locate these immigration violators who potentially pose a threat to public safety."[Press Release]

Finally, an amusing scene from South Carolina where plant employee Nicole Freeman said that as ICE closed in some workers ran for the doors while screaming " policía! " and "ICE!" [Workers ran for doors when federal agents arrived at chicken plant, witnesses say, Eric Connor and Paul Alongi, Greenville Online, October 7, 2008 ]

Laughing at other`s misfortune may seem cruel. But I have long maintained that an alien who knowingly comes to the US illegally or falsifies documents to remain assumes an inherent risk.

Maybe he`ll stay forever "in the shadows." But as of today he should be fully aware that his chance of deportation—now greater than ever—always looms.

What`s happening since enforcement began in earnest is straight from the "I told you so" department.

American workers are lined up to take the jobs that they supposedly "won`t do." In Mississippi, at Howard Industries, hundreds of applicants queued up.

Other companies signed up recruiters to find new employees. One firm, St Louis-based Jacobson Staffing, hired about 900 temporary workers for Postville`s Agriprocessors and—extra bonus— ran all of the new hires through E-Verify to make sure they are authorized to work in the U.S.

Another personnel firm, Texas-based Bravo Labor Agency located about 200 workers and placed them in sugar cane fields in Louisiana, dairy farms in Maine and grain silos in South Dakota.

Who do we have to thank for this?

The unlikely answer: Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security Secretary—once (and still) a target of our scorn for his support of "comprehensive immigration reform."

In December 2007, Chertoff said:  "…I am not prepared to give up on some kind of comprehensive reform, or at least some progress toward comprehensive reform, during 2008."

But the most important part of the same Chertoff speech is this: "…we have the willingness to enforce the laws the way they are, and that we`re prepared to use all the tools at our disposal to get the job done."

Being for "comprehensive reform" and law enforcement may seem contradictory. But in fact it is not.

There`s no reason why someone cannot favor and promote a particular approach to illegal immigration but obey the existing laws until such a time as new laws replace them.

That apparently describes Chertoff, now.

And while I agree that there`s room for skepticism about Chertoff—that he`s softening us up for the comprehensive immigration reform kill—I really don`t care.

The bottom line: deportations and arrests are currently at a higher level than at any time since the Eisenhower administration, illegal aliens are self-deporting and the U.S. is much less inviting a place for those who have law breaking on their mind.

In the meantime, comprehensive immigration reform never happened in 2008. And I predict it is certainly not going to happen in 2009, 2010… or any time until the Wall Street crisis ends, if even then.

I tip my hat to Chertoff.

Although I doubt he needs my encouragement, I urge Chertoff to continue to enforce the law. His get-tough policies have yielded wonderful results for patriotic immigration reform fans.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.