The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ali Jost, (202) 730-7159,

DHS' Immigration 'Enforcement' Strategy Is More of the Same

DHS Targets Workers, Not Abusive Employers


The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary
Janet Napolitano expressing deep concerns about the Department's
recently announced decision to send I-9 audit notices to 1,000
additional employers-notices that are off target because they will
result in the dismissal of thousands of workers but will let the worst
employers off the hook. Accompanying the letter, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina issued the following statement:

road to immigration enforcement is lined with good intentions, but the
lining is wearing thin, and it is starting to look more like the same
detour to nowhere mapped out by the Bush Administration.

"DHS' plan
to audit 1,000 new employers may sound tough-but the words ring hollow
because the plan is not smart, targeted or effective. Based
on its previous announcements, we had expected DHS to target egregious
employers and criminals who break labor laws, but instead these
seemingly arbitrary audits actually benefit abusive, off-the-books employers who push down wages and working conditions for all workers. The
resulting churning of the workforce is harmful to local economies and
communities. It is demoralizing to the workforce that remains in the
affected workplaces, but gets us no closer to fixing our broken
immigration system.

deserves an enforcement program with real teeth that punishes the most
abusive employers-not the hard-working immigrants they exploit. Our
nation's immigration enforcement system should be part of-not in
conflict with-a broader strategy to lift wages and standards for all
workers. To accomplish this, SEIU urges DHS to coordinate all workplace enforcement with the
Department of Labor so it can effectively target and punish employers
who intentionally take advantage of our broken system to exploit their
workers-both legal and undocumented-by illegally paying them in cash,
harassing them, and forcing them to work in abusive and unhealthful

"DHS' failure to distinguish between these bad actors and employers who are merely caught in a broken system means that no one
benefits: working conditions don't improve; bad-apple employers aren't
held accountable; and yet our immigration problems continue to fester
without relief. Auditing 1,000 employers may sound
impressive, but there are more than 6,000,000 businesses in the U.S.
DHS is basically spinning its wheels and wasting taxpayer dollars.

knows full well that when one in 20 workers is undocumented,
enforcement alone cannot solve this problem. We need comprehensive
reform. But until Congress acts, DHS must enforce the law
in the smartest way possible to improve lives. SEIU urges DHS to build
an enforcement program that differs in substance, not just form, from
the failures of the past."

Go to to download a copy of the letter SEIU sent to DHS Secretary Napolitano.

SEIU's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Principles:

comprehensive solution would couple enforcement at the border and in
the workplace with a path to earned legalization for all hard working
immigrants. It will also replace guest worker programs with a system
that guarantees immigrant workers full labor and civil rights
protections, and a road to U.S. citizenship. Done together, these
reforms will finally restore the rule of law and eliminate an informal
labor market that drives down wages and labor protections for all U.S.
Read more about the Change to Win and AFL-CIO's Unified Immigration Reform Framework.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.