In a refreshing break from the Bush Administration’s enforcement strategy, John Morton, President Obama’s nominee to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that, if he is nominated, immigration law enforcement efforts would focus less on unauthorized workers and more on the employers who hire them: “We need to place renewed focus on employers to ensure that they are playing by the rules.”
At Morton’s nomination hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who supports his nomination, said American employers who have employed unauthorized foreign workers show “absolutely no fear that they would ever face meaningful enforcement.” She added that Morton’s new focus on employers “will really be like shooting fish in a barrel. I’m looking forward to seeing some of those fish float.”
If playing by the immigration rules is the au courant enforcement theme, then Morton should also take aim at another full barrel of fish — the bureaucrats and enforcement officers who flout the immigration laws. Recent reports from the courts suggest that judges have taken the government to task for their treatment of religious workers, widows and widowers applying for green cards and foreign citizens who seek to stay in the U.S. long enough to challenge unjust removal orders.
If confirmed as expected, Morton should reach out to such stakeholders as business and trade groups, faith-based organizations, immigrants right groups and immigration bar associations. He should ask for examples (this blog lists many) where the government has not played by the immigration rules. With the blessings of Pres. Obama and Sec. Napolitano, he should then convene a meeting of the leaders of ICE and its sister agencies in the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection. This convocation should take a probing self-inventory to see whether their enforcement, admission and adjudication practices play by the immigration rules.
In other words, Morton should cause the rule-breakers in the government to lead by example. That would be a refreshing enforcement strategy and a fine kettle of fish indeed!