ICE Raids in Bellingham, WA Raise More Than Just Eyebrows

Written by on February 25, 2009 in Elections, Enforcement with 6 Comments

Photo by Scott Lenger.

Yesterday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. in Bellingham, WA, where 28 workers, including three women, were detained and placed in deportation proceedings.

This is the first workplace raid conducted by ICE we are aware of since President Obama took office. Under the Bush Administration, ICE raided nearly 5,173 immigrants in 2008 alone.

Is this the “change” we were supposed to “believe in?” Is this the comprehensive immigration reform the Obama Administration promised?  ICE’s recent action doesn’t line up with the Obama Administration’s pro-reform rhetoric and we want to know just where President Obama stands on this issue.

Just last week, President Obama went on Univision’s nationally syndicated radio program Piolín por la Mañana, to talk about reform and the need to fix our broken immigration system:

[W]e’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform…[We] need to get started working on it now.  It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen.

[W]e’re going to make sure that we begin the process of dealing with the immigration system that’s broken. We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens…that they are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members.

The recent raid, together with Obama’s comments on Piolín por la Mañana raise the question: What is the Obama Administration ‘for’ when it comes to immigration, enforcement, and reform? The immigrant community wants clarity.

With an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, deportation is clearly not the solution.  The ghosts of the Bush Administration’s enforcement regime must not haunt the Obama Administration’s approach to immigration.  In a climate where communities across the nation are rethinking their current hard-line immigration laws and DHS investigates deaths in detention, arrest quotas and internal practices, the time for merely talking about comprehensive immigration reform is over. Actions, after all, speak louder than words.

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  • One of the few positives of the economic “stimulus” plan was the provision limiting the ability TARP recipients to hire foreign workers over American workers. Drafted by Senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Grassley, the provisions require only that a good faith effort be made to hire American workers over foreign workers, but the increased government scrutiny over the recipients of federal bailout money should give pause to any employer seeking to violate the spirit of this rule. Substantial research has shown that, despite an abundance of well educated domestic talent, employers often seek to hire foreign workers in an attempt to lower labor costs.

  • L. P. Gilbert

    Do we really want to become a nation of law breakers? People who decide which laws they want to obey? Crack down HARD on employers who hire illegals and we won’t have to find them and deport them. They will be streaming across the border in the other direction.

  • Lorraine

    With an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, deportation is clearly not the solution. Deportation may not be but giving those jobs to the unemployed Americans in the country would go a long way towards solving the current unemployment problem. These are supposed to be temporary workers filling jobs Americans will not do. I keep hearing about the lines of unemployed how show up to take the jobs made available after one of these ICE raids. That puts the lie to these being jobs Americans will not do.

  • you said it right!

  • theblamee

    If we can break the system bad enough then we don’t have to worry about “legal” immigration. Is that what the message is here?

    • Janeen Collins

      I believe you hit the nail on the head.