Enforcement Only Policies = No Real Solutions
Immigration enforcement, not immigration reform, has been the focus of the Obama administration. The administration expanded the 287(g) program, which empowers local police to enforce federal immigration laws, and renewed E-Verify, the Bush mandated system that federal contractors are required to use to verify the immigration status of workers. Both are flawed and ineffective enforcement policies.
Obama's enforcement approach also targets employers. Instead of massively arresting immigrant workers in the workplace like the Bush administration, the focus now is on punishing employers that hire undocumented workers. As a result of this new focus, American Apparel is in the process of firing 1,800 immigrant workers in LA. A federal investigation revealed irregularities with the employees' documentation. Most of the workers losing their jobs are women who support their families.
This enforcement approach, however, does not address the real problem: an underground workforce that threatens the wages and working conditions of all workers. In reality, this kind of enforcement drives undocumented workers further into the shadows and increases the likelihood of workplace violations--affecting all workers. As I have argued before, to address the real problem, we need immigration reform that ensures that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, are guaranteed equal labor rights. Enacting enforcement only polices does not lead us to real solutions.