Audits, not raids mark U.S. immigration crackdown: report

CHICAGO (BestGrowthStock) – The government is taking a new approach in its effort to crack down on illegal workers by quietly auditing the employment records of thousands of companies suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants rather than staging high-profile worksite raids, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The Times said the Obama administration had conducted such audits at more than 2,900 companies so far — a number it said dwarfed the number of companies affected by the immigration raids at factories and farms during the eight-year administration of Obama’s Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, has imposed $3 million in fines on businesses found to be in violation.

The Times said the government forces the businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant discovered on their payrolls — not just those who are working during the audit — and makes it much harder for the companies to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements.

But the Times said most of the workers discovered by the audits were not being deported once they lost their jobs and that the government had moved away from the practice of bringing criminal charges against immigrants who lack legal status but have otherwise clean records.

ICE chief John Morton told the Times, said the purpose of the audits was to create “a culture of compliance” in which employers would routinely verify the immigration status of their workers. He said ICE was most interested in finding “egregious employers.”

With congressional elections ahead in November, illegal immigration has become a growing concern. Hispanic have traditionally tended to vote for Democrats but the Republican Party has been recruiting them.

The U.S. Justice Department filed suit this week against Arizona because of the state’s new law requiring police to investigate the immigration status of anyone reasonably suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Bill Trott)

Audits, not raids mark U.S. immigration crackdown: report