ICE Raids Highlight "Basic Pilot" Shortcomings

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Federal agents conducted a massive round up of illegal workers at Swift and Co. meat packing plants in six states Tuesday, causing substantial anger and consternation among illegal immigrants, their families and their advocacy groups. Among victims of identity theft, not so much:

One victim was a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Another was a woman whom the Internal Revenue Service accused of not paying taxes on $120,000 in earnings that were news to her.

Court documents released Tuesday showed how some victims had their identities stolen by workers who used them to get jobs at Swift & Co., a meatpacking plant in Greeley. Still other victims had no clue how Swift employees used their identities to find jobs, open credit accounts and even collect unemployment benefits...

It appears all the suspects rounded up in Greeley on Tuesday were Latino and were using identification belonging to legal U.S. residents with Latino surnames. Over the course of their nine-month investigation, authorities compared legitimate driver's license photos of victims to photos of the suspects and determined they weren't looking at the same person.

The niece of one identity-theft victim was overjoyed when told that a man suspected of stealing her uncle's ID had been arrested.

"Thank God," said Arlene Juarez of Bakersfield, Calif.

Arlene is the niece of Aaron Rey Juarez, who told authorities he had lost his wallet. Because of the ID theft, authorities have targeted Juarez for not paying child support - for children who aren't even his, Arlene Juarez said.

"He needs a whole new Social Security number," she said. "Every time they do a credit check, it's fraud this or fraud that."

Needless to say, the right-wing extremist media outlets are all over the story:

A day after federal agents netted 1,300 meat plant workers in the largest immigration sweep in U.S. history, federal officials pledged on Wednesday to continue a crackdown on illegal workers and identity theft...

Tuesday's sweep of meat plants in six states, which temporarily shut the Swift and Co. plants, was the culmination of "Operation Wagon Train," a 10-month investigation into alleged illegal aliens using fake documents, and in some cases documents belonging to real people, to get jobs.

Anti-illegal immigration activists should note the raids highlight a very real problem with the federal "Basic Pilot" program

"We believe that the genuine identities of possibly hundreds of US citizens are being stolen or hijacked by criminal organizations and sold to illegal aliens in order to gain unlawful employment in this country," said Julie Myers, ICE assistant secretary. She called it "a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration..."

All of the arrests at the Swift plants Tuesday targeted illegal immigrants who held actual - not fake - Social Security numbers. Many businesses that make use of immigrant labor participate in a national test program for employers called Basic Pilot, an online system to verify employees' Social Security numbers.

"Basic Pilot" is held out by some as a critical step toward increased enforcement of employment regulations at the state and local levels. It is also a de facto part of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (GA SB521), currently recognized as the strongest state legislation in the U.S. related to enforcement of legal employment. The Georgia act does not go into effect until July and one can surmise those charged with implementing it will be calling for a more secure federal program to be put into place.

As T.J. Bonner, president of the border patrol agents' association, said in May, the ultimate solution will likely involve a new version of the social security card with some type of biometric verification built in.

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Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

great! this ties in nicely with what I just posted here:

and as the article I posted here:

points out, the more you crack down on undocumented workers, the more you cause false documentation to proliferate.

allowing more legal immigration would cut down on id theft.

this is a simple solution. zimzo's made this argument when the id theft issue's come up in the past.


Yes, yes, I think we can all agree if no documentation was required there would be no document fraud.

So are you saying there should be no regulations about who can work in the U.S.?

I'll assume your answer is, that is exactly what you assume. Ok. This sure places the U.S. in a unique situation vis a vis every other country's internal controls.

I'll assume your answer is, yes it does. And that is fine because the U.S. is different.

Next, you also seem to say there should be no limits on immigration into the U.S. True? Again, this would make the U.S. rather unique. I won't posit an answer for you here: I want to hear your answer.

I am certain you are saying there should be more enforcement on businesses who hire workers under the table, so that ALL workers would receive benefits, have payroll taxes attributed, receive similar wages to all other workers, etc.

But if this was the case, businesses would lose the bonus they get from hiring illegal workers. There would be no market for the tens of millions you want to give citizenship to. The millions of newly-legalized workers would have no competitive advantage over current American citizens.

Honestly, I think all this scenario would deliver is a massive increase in people receiving "welfare" in its various forms.

But answer this, please: Should America place any limits at all on legal immigration? If we don't, we will surely go bankrupt, because even the left wing academic types must admit the majority of people who would enter the country would be under-educated and more likely to require assistance from the public treasury.

I look forward to hearing your take on this.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

i think there should be fewer restrictions in the short term and no restrictions in the long term. especially with regards to Mexico and Canada.

i think i'm going to stop talking about immigration from Mexico to the US and instead start referring to migration patterns within the NAFTA zone.

"This sure places the U.S. in a unique situation vis a vis every other country's internal controls"

untrue! look at the EU. Any citizen of any EU country can work in any other country in the EU. Hell, they can even get medical treatment in their host country if they get sick or injured. meanwhile our own social welfare program, SS, is failing from without and within.

is there an adjustment period to integration? yes. will Europe be stronger in the long run? yes. will the euro replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency in the not so distant future because of this? probably.

NAFTA was inspired by modeled after the the successful economic integration in the EU, but it's kind of a half-assed attempt at regional integration.

regional economic integration is what the 21st century is all about. we can bitch and moan all we want about protecting our way of life and how immigrants fail to integrate, but this is integration! the sooner we figure out how to cope with it, the sooner we can start thinking about how the US is going to remain relevant in the future (...and it obviously ain't going to be with our great military prowess, is it?) we've got the euro replacing the dollar in commodity markets, we've got China and India coming into their own, and here we are whining about the changing economy in North America.

sure, there's a bigger disparity between the US and Mexico than there is between most EU countries (although the less wealthy member countries did experienced a short-term shock after switching over to the euro) that's something nosotros will have to deal with. ...and by "deal with" i don't mean build a big fence with the razor wire and the trench.

if we can't learn to ride the wave of globalization we'll be swept out to sea!!!

Ok, interesting. So you are supporting the Bush plan to combine the entire North American West into a single hemispheric entity.

You are a closet WND guy? I never would have guessed. More here
and here

Doesn't the "bigger disparity between the US and Mexico" result in a huge outflow of funds from the U.S. treasury to millions of people?

Do you really think that is a good idea?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

i think the US economic future is tied to the Mexican economic future. the sooner we recognize that the better. the only true way to defend the american way of life is through a massive "north american development initiative"

why not? after wwii we rebuilt europe in a decade.

of course there'll be some turbulence, and sure it would be expensive. so is the iraq war. do you think the iraq war is 'worth it'?

you can see a microcosm of this in Michigan. the conservative idea, esp. in the suburbs, is that we can just abandon/ignore Detroit. Let Detroit take care of itself, as long as there are enough police to from those mean inner-city people from coming out to the suburbs and breaking into the big fancy houses, who cares?

the conservatives here fail to recognize that the future of Michigan and the future of Detroit are inseparable. the same goes for the US and Mexico, I think.

one off-topic point: you said that if undocumented workers became legalized, they'd loose their jobs because they'd no longer have a competitive edge. on the contrary, they'd have access to more jobs. right now they're restricted to working for people who are willing to bend the rules. this keeps them in a small subset of industries in which this is convenient to do: construction, food-service, farming...

Interesting thoughts, Puft. When Bush first started talking along these lines I thought about it somewhat, but when I really began to look into the topic the president and I parted ways.

But I see what you are saying and will think about it some more when I get off "work" (unfortunately that will be pretty late tonight so I may not get back on the blog until tomorrow).

I agree with your overall vision of development of Mexico in some form. And I do appreciate very much your initial comments here which eventually inspired me to start to become educated better about why the hell this mess has developed the way it has.

I don't think the entire solution is to build a giant wall and hermetically seal us off from the squalid south.

I do think we need a wall, ASAP, because it would definitely SLOW the ingress. The border patrol needs to be better funded and manned. We can't afford the amount of prison space it would cost to house all of those who are arrested so deportation of those arrested has to become at least semi-meaningful, which means making it harder to get here.

I don't lack sympathy for those who want to come here but I do have sympathy for citizens who are already here and who are facing off against the problems illegal aliens bring.

[And yes, I realize you and I have different perspectives on the "facing off" side of the issue. Hear me out.]

"Our" problem north of the border will never be solved as long as the situation south of the border is such a cluster- you- know- what, economically speaking.

Mexico has not just been screwed up by NAFTA in 1994. Mexico was screwed up for centuries already. NAFTA was a desperate grasp by Mexico to climb out of its financial hole.

I'm not going to defend the prosecution of the Iraq War - if our troops are not going to be allowed to win then bring them home and put some on the border, I say. But the notion of simply pouring money into Mexico is, you must see, crazy. It would be money down a rat hole.

So there has to be a carrot and stick approach aimed at overturning Mexico's caste system, foolish, ineffectual governmental leaders and oligarchic ruling class.

I'm all for the U.S. focusing it's diplomatic, military and economic influence to make the world a better place, but I think we should be redirecting 50% of that effort to fixing the problems in this part of the hemisphere.

Yeah, it will cost some money, I agree. But just sending money to Mexico without any other reforms would be pointless.

What to do about those illegals who are here now? Some are going to get sent back, as evidenced by the Swift and Co. food raids, but I think that number will be a drop in the bucket. Some who are migrants will self-deport if jobs dry up.

The key determinent for me is: Do they want to become Americans? If they do, my guess is some way for them to do that will be offered. Learn the rules, play by the rules, have a good life. If they disdain this country for everthing except its offer of quick money, though, I say stay the hell out.

We don't have any problems with any ethnic group in this area, as far as I can tell. We have problems with foreign nationals.

Again, the "facing off" aspect of the question becomes key here. You have not experienced much of it, I gather.

So that brings us to what I guess is the key difference between us, priority and timing. I think we should err on the side of getting the enforcement mechanism in place so there is not a flood of new illegal immigrants following the announcement of whatever liberalization measures are put in place for illegals who have been living here and wish to become full-fledged Americans. I also think err on the side of protecting the interests of American citizens. But the problem won't be fixed until Mexico is fixed. I'll support any realistic person or program, Democrat or Republican, working to make that happen.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

I'm in a big hurry:

I don't think we ought to throw money at Mexico, I think there should be an ongoing meeting of minds between US Canada and Mexico to direct investments, assess the situation, and make necessary adjustments

but I suppose if i had to choose between a wall and troops, I'd go with the troops. I'd like to see more regional integration, and it doesn't make sense to spend $40 billion or whatever to build a wall along what will some day be an open border...

finally, 'they' not want to be Americans, or do 'we' not want to be North Americans?

Thank you for the refreshing honesty, General. Man, how hard is it nowadays to get to a point in a discussion where each party reveals their core assumptions? Ours seem pretty far apart, but at least we've gotten to the point of knowing what me might really disagree about.

I question whether the eventual open border idea is realistic. If you talk about "integration" the next question is "on whose terms." I mean, do you really see Mexico adopting rule of law, respect for private property, in effect taking on the heritage of the Magna Carta and the Federalist?

If so, don't you think that will be interpreted south of the border as akin to making Mexico the 51st state?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

"Mexico adopting rule of law, respect for private property, in effect taking on the heritage of the Magna Carta and the Federalist"

in short, yes. I'm not interested in 51 states, or 52 states. I'm interested in 3 states. Once the US, Mexico, and Canada prove that such integration is possible and mutually beneficial, we can start bringing other central-american countries into the fold (example: the EU) In spirit, NAFTA was in the right direction, but in practice, it's been a setback, because it's turned out to look like a raw deal that the US pushes on latin america, which is unfortunate (see your article on salad and trust)

will the US and Mexico be able to cooperate in the near future? maybe not.

will the US's position in the world, economically and militarily, be marginalized by the rise of the EU and China? maybe.

No imposition; it'd have to be on all of everyone's terms. but the best case scenario is if the US, Mexico, and Canada CAN come together, if our (collective) leaders CAN find a way to cooperate and integrate.

if we don't, we'll probably be fine, more or less. but we should accept that the Pax Americana has come and gone, and that America's position in the world is in decline

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