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Mississippi employers in ICE raids unlikely to be prosecuted


>>Sreenivasan: OFFICIALS ARE CALLING THE IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT RAID OF SEVERAL MISSISSIPPI FOOD PROCESSING PLANTS THIS WEEK ONE OF THE LARGEST ENFORCEMENT ACTS IN RECENT U.S. HISTORY. NATIONALLY, RAIDS LIKE THIS HAVE DETAINED AND DEPORTED THOUSANDS OF SUSPECTED UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS, AND ICE SAYS THEY ARE ALSO STEPPING UP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS AGAINST THE INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES THAT EMPLOY THEM. ADOLFO FLORES IS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT FOR IMMIGRATION AT BUZZFEED NEWS. HE JOINS ME NOW FROM McALLEN, TEXAS. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE DISPARITY HERE. WE SAW THE RAIDS. WE SAW THE PEOPLE BEING HANDCUFFED AND MARCHED AWAY. THOSE WERE MOSTLY THE WORKERS. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EMPLOYERS?>>SO FAR, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED TO THE EMPLOYERS, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT IMMIGRANT ADVOCATES HAVE BEEN POINTING OUT IS, 680 PEOPLE WERE DETAINED, HUNDREDS OF THEM ARE STILL IN ICE CUSTODY, AND THE BOSSES OR THE EMPLOYERS WHO HIRED THEM HAVEN’T, YOU KNOW, BEEN DETAINED OR REALLY FACED ANY CONSEQUENCES YET.>>Sreenivasan: AND WHY IS THAT?>>THE LAW… THE WAY THE LAW IS AROUND THIS WAS WRITTEN IS, EMPLOYERS AREN’T BREAKING THE LAW BYHIRINGUNDOCUMENTED WORKERS. BUT WHAT HAPPENS IS, THEY… IF THEY ARE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW, IT’S BECAUSE THEYKNOWINGLYHIRED UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS. IT’S ANNOYINGLY THAT TOUGH TO PROVE FOR PROSECUTORS, AND SO THAT TAKES MORE TIME. AND NOT ONLY MORE TIME, IT MAKES IT HARDER FOR THE PROSECUTOR. SO, SOME PEOPLE WOULD, YOU KNOW, SAY THAT THE IMMIGRANTS ARE THE LOW-HANGING FRUIT WHEREAS THE EMPLOYERS ARE TOUGHER TO GET. AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THEY DON’T REALLY FACE ANY CRIMINAL CHARGE. FINES, IF ANYTHING.>>Sreenivasan: BUT WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES THAT AN EMPLOYER HAS TO HIRE UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS?>>I MEAN, JUST THAT THEY’RE… THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, THEY’RE CHEAPER. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY THEM AS MUCH. BUT THERE’S ALSO THE FACT THAT THEY MAY BE LESS INCLINED TO COMPLAIN. IF THEIR, YOU KNOW, THEIR WAGES ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY, AN UNDOCUMENTED WORKER IS NOT GOING TO FEEL AS EMPOWERED AS SOMEONE WHO HAS PAPERS TO GO AND FILE A COMPLAINT. AND SO, YOU KNOW, CHEAP… THE CHEAPER COSTS, AND THEN THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM, YOU KNOW, MORE APPEALING TO EMPLOYERS.>>Sreenivasan: YEAH, SO, THERE HAVE BEEN DATABASES TO TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS GAP BETWEEN HOW MANY EMPLOYEES OR, YOU KNOW, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS ARE… ARE ARRESTED VERSUS EMPLOYERS. WHEN YOU GO BACK AND LOOK BACK AND FORTH– AND NOT JUST THAT THIS RAID– WHAT DO WE FIND?>>WHAT HAPPENS IS, A LOT OF THE EMPLOYEES, YOU KNOW, THEY’LL USE DOCUMENTS THAT AREN’T THEIRS, YOU KNOW, BUT THEY’RE STILL VALID, YOU KNOW, NUMBERS. AND SO, THE EMPLOYER WILL RUN THEM THROUGH E-VERIFY, AND THEY’LL SAY, “YOU KNOW, WE DID EVERYTHING THAT WE POSSIBLY COULD TO VERIFY THAT THESE EMPLOYEES WERE HERE AND WERE ABLE TO LEGALLY WORK.” SO, IT’S HARD TO PROVE THAT. AND IT’S ALSO EASY FOR PEOPLE TO GET INTO THE SYSTEM AND NOT RAISE ANY RED FLAGS.>>Sreenivasan: IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, HOW MANY EMPLOYERS DO YOU THINK HAVE BEEN EITHER CONVICTED OR, WELL, ARRESTED OR IN ANY WAY KIND OF BROUGHT TO JUSTICE ABOUT THIS?>>THERE WAS AN ANALYSIS DONE BY TRACK AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY THAT LOOKED AT THE NUMBER OF PROSECUTIONS AGAINST EMPLOYERS, AND THEY FOUND THAT FROM APRIL OF 2018 TO MARCH OF 2019, ONLY 11 INDIVIDUALS–NOTCOMPANIES– WERE PROSECUTED FOR HIRING UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS. AT THE SAME TIME, DURING THAT PERIOD, MORE THAN 120,000 UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS WERE CHARGED FOR ILLEGAL ENTRY OR ILLEGAL REENTRY. SO, IT’S PRETTY STARK WHEN YOU LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, ADOLFO FLORES FROM BUZZFEED NEWS, JOINING US VIA SKYPE FROM McALLEN, TEXAS, TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.>>THANK YOU.

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