Thesis: Homeland Security Issue of Immigration and Illegal

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¶ … Homeland security [...] issue of immigration and illegal immigration, and how homeland security manages these issues. Immigration is one of the many issues under the homeland security department's umbrella, and it is one of the most volatile issues facing the country today. Illegal immigration is an emotionally charged subject with two distinct sides. One side believes the country must shut down its borders and deport all illegal immigrants, while others believe amnesty is the answer to the question. In the meantime, homeland security has to manage the situation, monitor immigrants, and seek out illegal aliens as part of their operations. Managing legal and illegal immigration activities helps keep the country safe in a variety of ways, from managing immigrant who engage in crimes to keeping terrorist threats from entering the country through the nation's borders.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, responsible for monitoring and managing legal and illegal immigration, turned five years old in 2008, so the year market a milestone for the agency. The ICE 2008 Annual Report offers some startling statistics about the agency and what it accomplished in the past year. For example, the department removed 356,739 illegal aliens during the year, which was an increase of 23.5% over the previous year (Torres, 2009). The agency works in numerous areas of suspected illegal activities, from immigrant child predators to gang activity, illegal firearms, and drug trafficking, giving them a broad spectrum of homeland security practices to maintain and protect.

Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is a major problem facing the country. The numbers are amazing. A former managing editor of the Christian Science Monitor notes, "There are now said to be 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. Of the Mexicans who live here, an estimated 85% are here illegally" (Dillin, 2006). This is not a new problem facing the nation. In the 1950s, illegal aliens were flowing across the borders unchecked, working in farms along the border throughout much of the year. The Border Patrol and Immigration Services were not enforcing immigration regulations, and the immigrants knew it. When Dwight D. Eisenhower took over the presidency in 1954, he began a much stricter policy, called "operation wetback," which ultimately netted approximately 500,000 to 700,000 illegal workers. The process worked because the immigration officials did not turn the people lose at the border; instead, they transported them into remote areas deep in Mexico, making it much harder for them to return to the border. Many other thousands left the country voluntarily, fearing arrest, and illegal immigration activity dropped 95% by the end of the 1950s (Dillin, 2006). Thus, there are effective programs that have been used to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

ICE is broken down into several different jurisdictions, including detention, investigations, protective service, intelligence, and international affairs. All of these jurisdictions can apply to illegal immigration, but they also address other issues that can come with illegal immigration, such as criminal activity, drug trafficking, and the safety and security of the nation at large. The ICE report continues, "A top priority for ICE has been to target the 'worst of the worst' in the illegal population -- criminal aliens incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails; those who may pose a threat to national security or public safety; and fugitive aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States but have failed to depart" (Torres, 2009). Last year, ICE identified 221,085 illegal aliens in U.S. prisons and began proceedings to remove them, and arrested 34,155 fugitive aliens, which gives a good idea of how many illegal aliens are in the country and under scrutiny.

ICE also works with the U.S. Border Patrol to stop illegal aliens from entering the country illegally, and they work with the Coast Guard in managing America's coastlines and waterways, an area that is seeing increased illegal alien activity, especially around the border with Mexico (such as the San Diego area). Illegal activity is so prevalent because America offers so many opportunities that are not available in Mexico, and it offers higher wages, as well. Another author notes, "Each year, hundreds of undocumented workers risk their lives illegally crossing the southern border of the United States to seek job opportunities and a better life for their families" (Wong, 2006, p. 175). Illegal immigrants find it easy to gain the documents they need to work in this country, and that word quickly spreads throughout the immigrant community. Two immigration experts note, "But from our own experience with immigration-related cases, we can report that the counterfeit documents that are commonly traded on the street often appear as genuine as those issued by government agencies" (Green & Ciobanu, 2006). These documents are expensive, but they open the door to employment and stability for the illegal immigrant, and it is another area of enforcement that ICE manages and attempts to control.

Illegal immigration is also a threat to national security. Terrorist can enter a foreign country easier than they could enter the United States, and then cross into the U.S. through the border with Canada or Mexico. That is why ICE is also tasked with monitoring international terrorist activity and watching for terrorists entering Canada or Mexico and then attempting to cross illegally into the U.S. To help manage the borders, ICE has created the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST), which work with the Border Patrol to control cross-border crime, and they arrested thousands of criminals and illegals in the past year. ICE has 12 BEST teams working along the American borders, including in the seaports of Miami, Florida and Long Beach, California (Torres, 2009). The 2008 report notes, "The BEST initiative was launched in 2006 to counter the dramatic surge in cross-border crime and violence stemming from competition between Mexican drug cartels and criminal smuggling organizations operating along the southwest border" (Torres, 2009). They have confiscated thousands of pounds of illegal drugs in the past year, and also weapons, property, and vehicles, all used in criminal activities on both sides of the border.

Illegal immigration is an emotional issue, because it revolves around humans and their basic human rights. Many maintain the illegals have come to this country to better themselves, and they should be allowed to remain. Many others believe they are here illegally, they take jobs away from Americans who are willing to do them, and that they should all be deported back to their home countries. There are numerous immigration laws meant to deal with the growing problem of illegal immigration, but it is difficult to enforce them when the numbers are so huge, and the enforcement agencies, such as ICE, are so relatively small.

Detention

Many people often forget that ICE is responsible for detaining illegal immigrants and returning them to their country of origin. It is a large operation, including flight operations for transporting detainees back to Mexico and other countries. The report notes, "ICE's Flight Operations Unit, for example, based in Kansas City, Mo., effected a record number of removals in FY08, with 200,000 aliens removed from the United States -- an increase of more than 20% over the previous year" (Torres, 2009). There are also detention facilities throughout the country that work to streamline the detention process so detainees are not kept in the facilities as long as they were in the past, instead they are removed quicker and more efficiently that they were in prior years.

Workplace Enforcement

One of the areas where ICE works to control illegal immigration is in the workplace. They have stepped up efforts to seek out illegals using illegal documents for employment, and they have stepped up workplace enforcement by making employers responsible for identifying illegal documents. Two other authors note, "Recent policy statements from the DOJ and DHS have made clear that the government expects America's businesses to increasingly work together with the government to curb illegal immigration or else face severe sanctions" (Green & Ciobanu, 2006). In fact, ICE has stepped up workplace enforcement dramatically, staging raids into suspected illegal workplaces and removing dozens and even hundreds of undocumented workers using illegal documents that the employers did not suspect. In at least some cases, there is evidence the workplace provided or doctored the documents themselves. ICE notes, "Of the criminal arrests, 135 were owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges that include harboring or knowingly hiring illegal aliens" (Torres, 2009). Employers who hire these illegal workers are fined by the number of workers and by the types of identity fraud they did not report or uncover. ICE often works with local law enforcement agencies when they make workplace raids, and workers uncovered in these raids are deported back to their home countries.

Employers have to follow the I-9 process when hiring workers. Each employee must fill out an I-9 form that states they have the correct documents, such as a driver's license and social security card, to obtain employment, and they have to have actual photocopies of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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