The Immigration Problem
An intriguing mystery I read recently characterizes FBI and CIA agents who run amok. They are renegades and answer only to their own callings and their own rules. Stealth, secrecy and guile may be necessary given the nature of the job and the real life incidents that define their work. What do I know?
For whatever reason, reading this novel conjured up images of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents dressed in SWAT gear and armed with more handcuffs than seemed manageable as they stormed through Swift & Co.’s plant in Greeley, Colo., and elsewhere last year in December, at the height of the holiday season. Workers were frisked, handcuffed and chained together to obviously be herded off to some federal jail.
In the aftermath, the raid was variously described as an abuse of power and nothing more than a Trojan-Horse incident. Then there was the question concerning why Swift executives were not also arrested in the same way. For its part, Homeland Security, the federal department under which ICE operates, considered the crackdown on “illegal immigrants who steal identities of Americans” to land jobs a huge success. Moreover, ICE billed the raids at Swift plants as part of a major criminal investigation to hunt and capture identity thieves.
If you don’t believe immigration reform is still a hot and thoroughly contested issue, you have not been paying attention. In his commencement address before the 2007 graduating class at Miami Dade College, President Bush verbally slapped the backs of immigrants, past and present, in recognition of their educational and professional accomplishments in America’s land of opportunity.
“I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform that will allow us to secure our borders and enforce our laws once and for all, that will keep us competitive in a global economy, and that will resolve the status of those who are already here, without amnesty, and without animosity,” he said. “Our current immigration system is in need of reform. It is not working. We need a system where our laws are respected. We need a system that meets the legitimate needs of our economy. We need a system that treats people with dignity and helps newcomers assimilate into our society.”
Is this campaign rhetoric? That is not for me to say. What I can say, based on the most recent news available, is that immigration reform will be too late to fix Swift & Co.’s labor situation – to say nothing of loss revenues tied to the ICE raid. The company has estimated the daily cost associated with the raid at $30 million.
Although rumors about the company’s for-sale status have circulated for a few years, recent news gives additional credence to such rumor-mill speculations. It seems that Swift, which reportedly went on the block the beginning of this year, is being eyed as an acquisition by a Brazilian beef company. The outcome of such a transaction remains to be seen. This is not meant to blame the company’s potential sale on the arrest of Swift workers and its loss revenue on the raid, however.
Meanwhile, the immigration situation is one of those thorny issues that continue to prick everybody’s fingers. Illegal immigrants and identify theft are real problems that beg for viable solutions – that can only come from politicians and elected officials. Now, if only they would do their jobs. They have already identified the problems. Where are the solutions?