McCaskill to Oppose Myers Nomination Until Answers Provided On Employer Enforcement
In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs last week, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill asked Secretary Julie Myers, who has been re-nominated to continue running U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for statistics on the prosecution of employers who hire illegal immigrants. Myers came up short. On Monday, in a letter to Myers, McCaskill said she will not vote to confirm her until she receives solid answers about recent enforcement of immigration laws.
"I've spent a lot of time as a prosecutor and I don't buy it. It is, I think, outrageous that you would come to a confirmation hearing in front of the United States Senate and not know how many employers in this country have been criminally prosecuted," McCaskill told Myers at the September 12th hearing. "The idea that you're keeping statistics that are lumping together the immigrants that you're arresting in the workplace with the employers is masking the fact that this has not been a priority and continues not to be a priority."
McCaskill has argued consistently that immigrants enter the United States illegally because there are employers who will hire them, despite their illegal status. In fact, in recent years, those who knowingly employ illegal immigrants rarely face criminal charges or sanctions for ignoring federal law. In the hearing last week, Myers failed to provide any factual evidence that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has enforced current law by charging employers of illegal immigrants since she was first appointed in January 2006.
McCaskill said, "I know, for example, that 537 people in Missouri were charged last year for kids using IDs in bars. Now, think about the similarity. I can imagine these employers are going to say, "Well, gosh, all kids look about the same age and, gosh, fake IDs are so good and, gosh, you know, all these fake IDs, how do you expect us to be accountable for figuring out who has a fake ID and who doesn't." Yet, 537 employers in Missouri were charged or sanctioned last year for accepting fake IDs from people who were trying to have a drink. But, we can't tell the American people how many employers have spent a day in jail for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants."
McCaskill continued, "It is, in fact, a major failure that anyone would think that the statistics of the immigrants that are arrested at a workplace translate to actions against the employer."
In the letter, McCaskill asks Myers to provide her with the number of employers who, as a result of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's workplace enforcement actions, were arrested in 2007, served jail time in 2007, or were fined in 2007. She also requested similar statistics for the entire Bush Administration.
"As a former prosecutor, I believe we must crack down on those who knowingly employ illegal immigrants by enforcing laws already on the books," McCaskill said. "Before we can confirm any nominee to head up our country's immigration enforcement agency, the U.S. Senate and the American people we need to know the nominee's track record on this issue. And until Secretary Myers provides me with that information, I cannot support her nomination."