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Public Statements

Helping Families Save Their Homes Act Of 2009 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. McCASKILL. Madam President, sometimes change comes quietly. Sometimes it comes with a big bang. Today change came quietly. I want to make sure everyone realizes the change that occurred.

For 3 years I have been talking about the problem of illegal immigration and what has caused this problem to flourish. I have been talking about the problem of the magnet of jobs that has drawn people over the border without documentation because they are trying to feed their families and the fact that no one was doing anything about employer enforcement.

When I got to Washington and I asked the head of immigration enforcement how many employers have been held accountable for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, how many have been arrested, she could not even tell me. They didn't even keep the statistics. Think about that for a minute. They didn't keep the statistics of how many employers were held accountable for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. I began pounding on immigration and customs enforcement about this, talking to them about basic investigative techniques.

In Missouri right now there are hundreds of employers that are breaking the rules knowingly. They are hiring people, paying them under the table, cash on Fridays. They are bringing pickup trucks from Mexico full of people, stuffing them all in an apartment. The vast majority of the business people are doing it right. They are trying to play by the rules, doing the very best job they can. But there is a chunk of employers out there that knew they were not going to get caught, knew nobody cared if they did, and they knowingly violated the law.

I asked the new head of immigration enforcement if that was going to change. I asked the new Secretary of Homeland Security if that was going to change. Today they announced a new policy. Finally, they have a set of guidelines going to everyone in the country about how we are going to prioritize going after those employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. We finally are going to get to the magnet. This is a crime we can deter.

If you think somebody is going to put you in jail for saying: Hey, I didn't care if you have papers or not, I can pay you cheaper; work you harder. I don't care if you are illegal or not; I don't want to know. In fact, bring your friends--if you don't think those people being held accountable is going to make a difference, then you don't understand law enforcement.

Today I am proud to say change came. The new guidelines require that, in fact, instead of working off tips, they are now going to embrace basic investigation. They will use undercover. They will use informants. They will use all kinds of documentation they can look at in terms of paper documentation. They will enlist the support and cooperation, ahead of workplace enforcement, of local law enforcement agencies, including the Justice Department. They have decided it is a new day in immigration enforcement and that we will get at the root of the problem.

I support E-Verify and I support giving employers all the tools we can to do the best job they can in hiring legal workers. But for those employers that don't care, that are doing it on purpose and knowingly doing it, we need to come down on them and come down hard.

This administration has figured it out. I congratulate the Secretary of
Homeland Security for these new policies. I stand in full support, and I know most of my colleagues do also. We finally will do something about illegal immigration when we shut down the magnet.

I yield the floor.

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