Democrats Need to Get Smart on Immigration

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Peter Shuck thinks Democrats are right to favor legal status for millions of undocumented workers, including Dreamers. He also believes we should legally admit “many more” than the 1.1 million we do now. He also wants to raise refugee admissions to 75,000. But he also thinks Democrats should take enforcement of immigration laws more seriously:

Effective interior enforcement means mandating that all employers use an improved, pre-hiring E-verify status check, and occasionally using well-targeted work site audits and arrests to enforce employer sanctions, which have been on the books since 1986. No administration, Republican or Democratic, has made that a priority. But it could be a winning issue for a smart Democratic candidate appealing to American working-class and union voters.

I agree with all of that except for the “occasionally” part. This doesn’t have to be like a plague of locusts descending on America’s farms and slaughterhouses, but it needs to be routine enough that employers know it’s a real risk. It also needs to be focused 100 percent on businesses. Workers should be left entirely alone except insofar as they need to be questioned to confirm employer records.

Think of what this accomplishes. ICE is no longer in the business of raiding panicked workers in fields and sweatshops. They are dealing exclusively with fellow American citizens. The fines should be big enough to genuinely deter employers and to fund the agency. Over time, illegal immigration would steadily and humanely be reduced simply because the prospect of a job in El Norte would steadily be reduced.

Now add a national ID card to the mix and you’re really in business.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate