Workplace enforcement includes the scrutiny of the I-9 form and the attached documents, in an attempt to discover identity fraud, fraudulent documents, and illegal workplace activities.
Another aspect of illegal immigration is weapons. Illegal immigrants bring guns and other weapons across the border, but there is also a growing trade in illegal firearms, obtained in the United States, traveling back into Mexico and being used in criminal activities there, especially by powerful drug cartels. The annual report states, "ICE launched Operation Armas Cruzadas in FY08 to provide a targeted law enforcement focus on arms smuggling between the United States and Mexico" (Torres, 2009). The problem has gotten so bad that the U.S. issued warnings to travelers to stay away from the country during the recent spring break season. The agency has had some success with stopping cross-border smuggling activities, but they have not had as much success as they would like, and the situation remains volatile on both sides of the border.
Gangs and Gang Activity
Recently, ICE has stepped up gang enforcement in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies in an attempt to stop illegal gang activity and gang violence around the country. Many illegal aliens become members of street gangs after they come to the United States, and many of these gangs deal in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, robbery and burglary, and gun violence. They say, "Operation Community Shield (OCS), launched in 2005, targets criminal transnational gang organizations that have grown to become a serious threat in American communities across the nation -- not only in cities, but increasingly in suburban and even rural areas" (Torres, 2009). Gang-related activities, such as graffiti or "tagging" costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year in damage to personal property, and the human costs of drug addiction and violent crime are nearly unimaginable. While workforce enforcement is still a top priority for the agency, gang-related activity has been moved up as a priority, especially in communities where many gangs are present and they have a large following.
Illegal Immigration Reforms
There have been talks of creating illegal immigration reforms that would create more opportunities for illegal immigrants to gain a legal foothold in the country. Many proponents would like a program that creates a system for long-term illegal residents to pay a fine, work a certain amount of time, and then gain legal status. Others believe this is not fair to all the immigrants who came here through legal channels, and that it will open the floodgates to even more illegal immigrants, hoping for a similar program in the future.
Others believe the country must create ties with Mexico that allow free access between the borders. Another writer notes, "Cross-border ties can help U.S.-based activists and scholars to strengthen our hand in the battles for hegemony in immigration debates, against national security discourses, and for legalization and reconceptualizations of citizenship" (Jonas, 2006). Of course, if this occurred, but of the Department of Homeland Security's focus would have to shift away from immigration, and focus on other issues, such as border violence, gang-related violence, and drug trafficking. In fact, much of their operations would change if cross-border understanding came into effect. If they could spend more time seeking out drug traffickers and weapons smugglers, they might be more effective in these areas, and they might gain an upper hand over smugglers and other illegal activities along the border.
In conclusion, illegal immigration is only one of the many issues facing the Department of Homeland Security, but it is a serious one that draws great debate around the country. Illegal immigrants cost the nation in many different ways, but they do the jobs that many Americans would refuse to do, and they form the backbone of many of the nation's largest industries.
Cox, A.B., & Posner, E.A. (2007). The second-order structure of immigration law. Stanford Law Review, 59(4), 809+.
Dillin, J. (2006). How Eisenhower solved illegal border crossings from Mexico. Christian Science Monitor.
Green, T.C., & Ciobanu, I.M. (2006). Deputizing - and then prosecuting - America's businesses in the fight against illegal immigration. American Criminal Law Review, 43(3), 1203+.
Headley, B. (2006). Giving critical context to the deportee phenomenon. Social Justice, 33(1), 40+.
Jonas, S. (2006). Reflections on the great immigration battle of 2006 and the future of the Americas. Social Justice, 33(1), 6+.