Democrats Need to Get Smart on Immigration

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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.

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