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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NEW ICE TACTIC: JAIL IMMIGRANT WORKERS

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The Postville, Iowa raid of a Kosher meatpacking plant earlier this month not only was unprecedented in terms of the number of workers detained - nearly 400 with warrants ready for up to 300 more. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did something it has rarely done before, and certainly not on this scale. It prosecuted 297 individuals for presenting false documents to procure their employment. 270 workers will spend five months in prison and another 27 received probation.



Whether you agree with this tactic or not, when DHS switches from administrative to criminal enforcement measures, various constitutional protections are triggered. Chief among them are the right to due process and the right to counsel.



The attached letter from the American Immigration Lawyers Association lays out the concerns.



Download aila_postville.pdf

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  1. hmm's Avatar
    If it is so certain that the Government's action are illegal, why cannot this be a basis for an appeal? From the way AILA letter is worded I am guessing that the situation ain't so obvious and it shall be hard to win an appeal in Midwest, where as I have heard judges are notoriously tough on immigration issues.

    On a positive side, this sounds like a beginning of a major fight for immigrants rights, and I am glad this is happening right before the election. Obama and McCain won't be able to stay away from this mess.
  2. A Nony Mouse's Avatar
    Somewhat Related:

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20080522-1823-wst-immigration-phoenix.html
  3. Kalifornian's Avatar
    Why is ICE arresting those who broke the laws of U.S.A ?! Is breaking the immigration law an 'arrestable' offense ?
  4. kosher's Avatar
    Identity theft is not an immigration law offense, so any arguments concerning immigration policy do not apply here.
  5. USC's Avatar
    "Identity theft is not an immigration law offense, so any arguments concerning immigration policy do not apply here."

    Those accused of identity theft are entitled to due process and right to counsel. In this instance, it appears that the guilty pleas were processed with unseemingly haste and the accused may not have received proper legal counsel.
  6. hmm's Avatar
    One may be sent to jail even for a speeding ticket depending on the state where the offense takes place:
    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourCar/10StatesWithTheToughestTickets.aspx . This is the "beauty" of US legal system: once the government decides to "send a message", it has plenty of means to do so. Now as for the due process, I tell you there isn't much of it in a traffic court. Lots of people of color fill out a form to find out that due to their "high" income they are not eligible to a free attorney, so an absolute majority end up representing themselves, and some do go to jail. What I am getting to is that the notion of "due process" seems to depend on the resources available to the state. Maybe things aren't so bright in Iowa, so perhaps this is how they do justice over there.
  7. kosher's Avatar
    Well... Tough! Broke the law...now deal with it! I guess this time "it's not a crime to feed one's family" won't cut it. Just because you're illegal doesn't give you a free pass to do whatever you like.
  8. kosher's Avatar
    >> guilty pleas were processed with unseemingly haste and the accused may not have received proper legal counsel.

    Yeah, it looks like that from the outside. But the beauty of identity theft and presenting fake documents is that when they do it, they leave hard documentary evidence of the crime. HR is always gonna have copies of those fake IDs, SS cards, and pay stubs, which can be presented in court. Sorry but I cannot imagine a protracted sitcom trial (ala "OJ Simpson") going on for a case like this.
  9. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Kosher - I think it's pretty doubtful the owners of the company had no clue. That doesn't make me happy since I'm a member of the Jewish community. And I think as consumers we're pretty guilty as well since most of us are not willing to pay what it would cost if we had a 100% legal work force. I'll bet you'll see a lot of suddenly pro-immigrant people emerge in the Orthodox community when they see what imported meat and chicken is going to cost. And that's really the same for every community in the country. When people have to pay to have imported food or domestically produced food with a legal workforce, the holier than thou attitude will suddenly become one of pragmatism.
  10. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Is it identity theft if someone used a SS number that does not belong to anyone? How about a number that was sold by a unscrupulous citizen who wants other people to contribute to SS for him/her? How many people were in those circumstances? How many people pled guilty when they were not really guilty of identity theft?
  11. jj's Avatar
    >> Is it identity theft if someone used a SS number that does not belong to anyone?

    This is called fraud, and there are pretty strict laws about it. You can't just go around presenting fake IDs and fake social security cards. In many countries this will land you in prison.

    >> How about a number that was sold by a unscrupulous citizen who wants other people to contribute to SS for him/her?

    You must be delusional to think anyone would give their own SS with the hope that somebody will contribute to the SS account. I don't know if you've been a victim of identity theft, but it's a real hassle clearing your name after somebody opens 5-10 credit cards in your name using your own SS. And there's no way to clear your record entirely.


    >> How many people pled guilty when they were not really guilty of identity theft?

    Yeah, right! Of course, we all know they weren't guilty. They were misled. They thought the funny little SS cards and IDs they bought were just for fun, so that the meat factory owner could get to know them better.
  12. Grace's Avatar
    I have been sickened when I read how these cases were handled. The government railroaded almost 300 people into accepting FELONY convictions, which carry prison time in most sentences, in barely a week. The idea that giving 10 (or more) defendants one attorney is "effective" assistance of counsel is absurd. (My initially word choice there was to call it a joke - but there is nothing funny about this.)

    No one is downplaying the fact that identity theft is a crime - it is a crime, and it does cause pain to the victims. But regardless of the crime, we still have to give those charged with crimes due process, including their right to counsel, and that clearly did NOT happen here.

    In these cases, it appears that we had coordinated action between the prosecutors, defense counsel, AND the district court, to ram these prosecutions through as quickly as possible. The court is supposed to be impartial, yet the comments of Chief Judge Reade clearly show that she sided with the prosecution's side of the story from the start.

    Almost 300 people, and not ONE wanted to challenge the charges? I don't believe it - they were railroaded. This was a kangaroo court, and I am ashamed of my country for this travesty.
  13. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "You must be delusional to think anyone would give their own SS with the hope that somebody will contribute to the SS account. "

    And you must be ill-informed.

    "but it's a real hassle clearing your name after somebody opens 5-10 credit cards in your name using your own SS. And there's no way to clear your record entirely."

    None of them were accused of opening a single credit card account in the name of another person. Again - you are ill informed. Most identity theft you describe is committed by US citizens (who have their own SS numbers), not by illegal immigrants. And don't tell me there is no difference between someone who has to use a made up SS number to feed their family because they can't get a real one (and pay taxes they will never see any benefits back), and someone with a SS number of their own stealing someone else's identity to defraud financial institutions.
  14. jj's Avatar
    I didn't say they opened credit cards. I said people are afraid of financial fraud to give their SS to anybody. Shheesh! They must send you back to 5th grade to work on your reading comprehension if you can't even understand two sentences correctly.

    >> One by one, they entered guilty pleas through a Spanish interpreter, admitting they had taken jobs using fraudulent Social Security cards or immigration documents.

    According to the article, they admitted to engaging in fraud. "Feeding one's family should not be a crime" doesn't work here. There may be a debate about immigration policies and reform, but there is no debate about how fraud should be handled and punished. Sorry to break it to you, but there are people who commit murder "to feed their family", and they don't get away.
  15. jj's Avatar
    Again from the article:
    "In many cases, court documents show, the immigrants were working under real Social Security numbers or immigration visas, known as green cards, that belonged to other people."

    These are felonies that carry a minimum of two year jail sentences. This has nothing to do with immigration. These illegals could've taken jobs that don't require SS cards, and they wouldn't have been in trouble.
  16. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    First, you don't know if these "other people" allowed the use of their numbers, and if they did, there is no "theft".

    Second, there are no jobs that don't require SS cards. Just shows how well you understand the laws.

    Third, these people would have gladly used their own SS numbers should they be able to get them (which, by the way, was possible just 15 years ago). That's a fundumental difference in intent you do not understand. This tactic, interestingly enough, is straight from Nazi Germany trickbox - if you can't get someone because they are not criminals, you just change the some other law in a way that these people have to break the law to survive, and then you get them with a straight hypocritical face claiming that they are criminals now.
  17. jj's Avatar
    LNLW: There are a lot of jobs that "do not require" SS numbers. They are usually paid off the books. A lot of small business employ people in that manner. For example, in many cases waiters and waitresses do not get paid a salary but rather make a living off the tips they get. (Regardless of the lack of W-2, they still have to declare their earnings for tax purposes.)


    >> This tactic, interestingly enough, is straight from Nazi Germany trickbox - if you can't get someone because they are not criminals, you just change the some other law in a way that these people have to break the law to survive, and then you get them with a straight hypocritical face claiming that they are criminals now.

    This is complete rubbish. Nobody changed the law, and the use of fake or "borrowed" SSN has never been legal. Just because law-enforcement never bothered to prosecute them before doesn't mean that what they've been doing was legal. Incidentally, the laws were only changed when there were amnesties before. All the previous amnesties were passed with the idea that people who were illegal would be legalized, and then the law would be made tougher so that this whole cycle wouldn't repeat.

    I'm not against providing some legal solution for these people so they can work legally, but the rampant law-breaking really has to stop. And people like you are doing them a disservice by pretending that it is OK to commit fraud just because you are an illegal immigrant.
  18. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "Nobody changed the law, "

    Well, you should research this before making such statements.

    "LNLW: There are a lot of jobs that "do not require" SS numbers. They are usually paid off the books. A lot of small business employ people in that manner. For example, in many cases waiters and waitresses do not get paid a salary but rather make a living off the tips they get. (Regardless of the lack of W-2, they still have to declare their earnings for tax purposes.)"

    First, you obviously never worked as a waiter. Waiters are NOT paid off the books. They DO get paid minimum salary, and they MUST have a SS number AND be authorized to work. Second, you just recommended that employers BREAK THE LAW and hire illegal workforce off the books, without paying any taxes (yes, that's EXACTLY what "off the books" means).

    You are very ignorant about the US laws, and your ideas are plain nuts. Nonetheless, somehow you believe that your ignorance gives you the right to judge how much wrong other people have done.
  19. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Where did I say that breaking the law was OK? I said it was different depending on circustances, but you of course twisted my words.

    It is one thing to pressure someone who borrowed friend's or spouse's SS number to work and put bread on the table into a guilty plea for identity theft and brand them criminals (i.e. your way), it is a very different thing to give this person their day in court and let the jury decide if that really was identity theft (i.e. my way). Now, you may rant.
  20. LBW's Avatar
    LNLW , you are correct , apparently waiter jobs need SSNs


    Please read the following story.

    http://redtape.msnbc.com/2008/05/two-lives-one-1.html#posts
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