if this goes thru an employeer will have to verify with the government that you are a citizen and not a criminal before the employeer can hire you! hope this will convince many people that amerika is now a full blown police state!


New border chief maps strategy

Mike Madden Republic Washington Bureau Feb. 15, 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - The new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers, wants federal agents to make examples of high-profile violators of immigration laws, hoping other businesses will avoid a similar fate by hiring only workers who are legally eligible to work in the United States.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic last week, her first in Washington since taking the job, Myers discussed her broad goals for the agency but acknowledged she was learning about its operations and how its work will mesh with immigration plans in Arizona and other states.

Still, she said she already has decided that a key priority for her agency is to make sure there are tough consequences for employers who break the law by hiring undocumented workers, as well as giving companies clear guidelines for how to verify their employees are citizens or have work permits.

That would reverse recent trends at the agency, which hasn't fined many businesses lately. But it fits into President Bush's broader plans for immigration reform. Last week, Bush asked Congress for money for about 200 additional ICE agents to investigate employment violations, though immigration experts said that won't be enough to find the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States. About 6 million work illegally in this country.

Myers, 36, took office in January after Bush gave her a recess appointment, which did not require congressional approval, to the job overseeing the federal government's second-largest investigation force after the FBI. Her nomination was controversial, and she would have faced a tough fight to win Senate confirmation. Lawmakers and critics outside government questioned her lack of experience with immigration issues and her close ties to the Bush administration.

As part of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a key role in securing the nation's borders. It investigates immigrant smuggling, detains and removes unauthorized immigrants from the country, and battles money laundering, arms exports and potential terrorism. The agency has 20,000 employees and a $4billion budget.

For Arizona, the most popular crossing point for illegal immigration, Myers promised that her agency will work closely with others involved in securing the border and battling drug smuggling. Federal authorities soon will establish a border violence task force based in Tucson that pulls together ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies.

Question: Does ICE's focus on investigating terrorism interfere with its ability to enforce immigration laws? The agency has been criticized in the past for doing national security investigations instead of cracking down on employers of undocumented immigrants.

Answer: The problem is we don't know who's crossing the border just to come in and find a job and who's crossing the border to build a bomb or to cause harm to our country. In my view, we have to get a handle on the immigration problem so we ensure we know who's in our country so we can get a handle on terrorism.

Worksite enforcement is going to be an increased area of emphasis for the department, the agency. We really want to make sure that employers have the tools that they need to make sure they're hiring individuals who are allowed to work in the country and to make sure if they don't, that . . . there are consequences for those actions.

Q: What specific things do you intend to do to make sure that there are more worksite enforcement actions taken?

A: One thing that ICE is looking at is, can we target some of the high-risk industries like hospitality, like meatpacking, like some of those really high-risk industries, as well as critical infrastructure, and let's partner with them to come up with good practices and work with them to avoid violations. And so I think you're going to see that as a trend from ICE in trying to avoid being on the Wal-Mart "name and shame" bad list.

Q: The president's budget was intended to beef up enforcement, but ICE would add only 200 agents. Is that enough?

A: One of the ways we would leverage (existing resources) is really working on the partnership and trying to get companies who are not criminal enterprises to look at themselves, at the state of their house, how are they auditing what they do, how are they looking at that. And we want to help companies avoid the situations where they get into problems. And that would be something that we would also be trending toward, relying on the private sector and looking to them to do some additional self-policing.

Q: What incentives do businesses that have been able to hire undocumented workers without much trouble from law enforcement have to partner with ICE?

A: I don't know if you heard about the Wal-Mart settlement, which is a huge settlement (Wal-Mart agreed last year to pay ICE $11 million to settle charges the store contracted with cleaning companies that hired undocumented immigrants). I think that was more significant than almost anything else we could have done. So there are companies that want to avoid being in that situation and make sure that they're . . . on the right side of the law.

A lot of companies want to do the right thing, they just don't always kind of know how to do it. I think if they knew the best practices, and we helped give them some of the tools, they'd want to do that. You always have some criminal companies, criminal enterprises . . . - and we'll focus our criminal resources on them - but by and large for the people that want to do the right thing, I think it's good to give them the opportunity to learn how to do it.

Q: How has the controversy surrounding your recess appointment affected your first few weeks on the job?

A: I've actually been very pleased with the amount of support that I've gotten. It is true perhaps that it maybe initially caused some people to underestimate me, but I've been underestimated before, and I looked forward to the opportunity to come in and explain what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it, and how I needed their support to do that. And I think just in this month, I think the folks that I've seen in the field and in these buildings have really seen some of the things that I've wanted to do and really how my past experience is really kind of an ideal fit for this job. I've been very pleased. It's been a tremendous month.

Reach the reporter at mmadden@gns.gannett.com or 1-(202) 906-8123.

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