A month ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent letters to 652 businesses across the country to let them know their hiring records would be audited “to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations.” The goal was to check whether those companies have been making sure they are not hiring people not authorized to work in the U.S., a.k.a. undocumented immigrants.
The initiative apparently has led to firings at some of those companies. Last Saturday, pro-immigration activists and workers demonstrated in Los Angeles to demand that President Obama stop the audits as well as the use of e-Verify, an employee ID verification system widely criticized by immigrant advocates.
ICE’s increased vigilance over employers –it said the number of letters it sent in July exceeds the numbers sent during the entire previous fiscal year– follows Obama’s promises that his approach to enforcing immigration laws would focus more on the labor demand side rather than on the supply, i.e. the undocumented workers who’ve been the target of raids and deportations in the last few years.
But L.A. activists said this particular measure has swollen the ranks of the unemployed in the midst of the economic crisis.