Villaraigosa Warns ICE to Back Off Immigration Raids

Daily Breeze (Los Angeles), April 10, 2008

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa warned that work-site raids on “nonexploitative” businesses could have a severe impact on the local economy.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is asking federal officials to rethink their policy on workplace immigration crackdowns that involve established businesses and to focus on employers that mistreat workers instead.

The mayor said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that work-site raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have “severe and long-lasting effects” on the local economy, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

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Villaraigosa accused federal officials of targeting “established, responsible employers” in industries that rely on “workforces that include undocumented immigrants.”

“In these industries, including most areas of manufacturing, even the most scrupulous and responsible employers have no choice but to rely on workers whose documentation, while facially valid, may raise questions about their lawful presence,” he wrote in the March 27 letter.

He said ICE should spend its limited resources targeting employers who exploit wage and hour laws.

Chertoff has not responded to the mayor’s letter, but Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said the department believes its priorities are correct.

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