Sunday, December 26, 2010

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith will be in powerful position against illegal immigrants

From the Los Angeles Times

Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who will have oversight over deportations and arrests when he takes the gavel as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. As his first order of business, Smith plans to hold hearings about workplace enforcement and expanding the employee identification program, E-Verify, which is set to expire in 2012. Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the Homeland Security Department has focused on arresting and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records.

Under Obama, the total number of deportations is up, and the percentage of those deported who are considered a threat to public safety is at a record high. Arrests of illegal workers at job sites are down, however, as the Obama administration focuses resources on fining and prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. The goal is to reduce the demand for illegal labor.

Smith plans to attack Obama's enforcement strategy. His staff is preparing to hold hearings to encourage more workplace raids and to investigate allegations that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials manipulated numbers to inflate the department's criminal deportation statistics. "We could free up millions of jobs for Americans and legal immigrants if we enforced our immigration laws against illegal workers," Smith said.

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