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Push for Workplace Raids

Although the deportation of illegal immigrants have reached new heights in these past two years under President Obama, there is a heavy push coming from the Republican Party to press for more aggressive enforcement without any path to legal status. GOP lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to return to the era of workplace raids to arrest illegal employees, an approach which sharply contrasts the President’s direction of seeking a path to citizenship for “responsible young people” and to deport only those illegal immigrants who are charged with serious crimes. Threatening to use their new majority in the House, Republicans reminisce on the final years of the Bush administration in which large-scale workplace arrests of illegal workers were made a hallmark of his immigration policy. This direction was shifted when Obama took office as he began to focus on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers instead.

The discontented GOP cited the 70% drop in arrests from work-site raids for immigration-related offenses, such as using a forged driver’s license or a fake Social Security number, as a reason why the economy is lagging in recovery. And given the likelihood of illegal immigration being a central issue for discussion in the 2012 campaign season, House Republicans on the House Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement plan to hold hearings to criticize the current administration which- they claim- allows illegal immigrants to take American jobs. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “With unemployment over 9%, it is hard to imagine a worse time to cut work-site enforcement efforts by more than half. Citizens and legal immigrants should not be forced to compete with illegal workers for jobs.”

Despite the peer-reviewed statistical evidence that points to the fact that illegal immigration has a positive effect on the national economy, as well having little or no effect on the ability for Americans or legal immigrants to get employment; the majority of individuals on the right-wing continue to disseminate this false notion of ‘us vs. them’. This latest Republican move came a day after Obama, in his State of the Union address, called on Congress to “once and for all” address illegal immigration with a means to provide both border security and a path to legalization. In hope that Obama’s call is heard, we shall remain attentive to the developments in forthcoming weeks.

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