By Debra Kay Markert
There have been many articles in the papers about the raids that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has carried out in the name of national security. But instead of focusing on the criminals and terrorist suspects, ICE is targeting those that are relatively easy to find. They are finding them hard at work in the meatpacking plants.
This framing of security risks is how the PATRIOT Act was passed, as George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson write in “The Framing of Immigration.” Their argument was that we needed a tougher agency to find and restrain terrorists and criminals. However, that is not what is happening.
ICE is rounding up foreigners who do not have proper documentation to work in the United States and deporting them. This is not how ICE has stated its purpose and goals to congress.
The unintended consequence is that instead of making our nation safer, it is actually contributing to the problems of the economic crisis! These meatpackers go to work every day; taxes are automatically taken out of their checks. They are paying mortgage or rent, paying taxes, buying food and clothes, and living otherwise normal lives.
When hundreds are deported, taxes are no longer collected, nor mortgages or rents paid, nor goods bought. Families are separated, and children suffer -- which requires more social services, as reported at the Urban Institute, Immigration Studies Program.
The businesses are suffering, with a shortage of trained meatpackers, losing money daily. This affects the food supply as well as the economic conditions of everyone in an area that rely on the meatpackers to spend their hard-earned money in town. “It’s chaos out there; the shortage is all over the country,” said Menachem Lubinsky, the editor of koshertoday.com, which monitors kosher food markets. “Everybody has begun to scramble.”
Deporting meat packers is not keeping America safe .
Businesses that rely on these workers need to advocate for immigration reform. Having these jobs filled is good for business, for the workers and their families, and helps keep America stronger in this economic crisis.
About the Author: Debra Kay Markert is a candidate for a master's degree of public affairs in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Her article appears as part of a policy research project conducted by graduate students in "Immigration and Public Policy" (PA 5490, Prof. Katherine Fennelly).