WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today used a Senate hearing to speak with representatives of front-line Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers charged with securing America’s borders and enforcing our immigration laws about how employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants are a magnet for illegal immigration, and harmful to American job-seekers.
Click HERE for more photos from the hearing.
The hearing, entitled “Perspectives from the DHS Frontline: Evaluating Staffing Resources and Requirements” examined the challenges faced by front-line Homeland Security personnel as they secure our border and enforce our immigration laws.
Chris Crane, President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, suggested that many agents are aware of employers knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
“Why aren’t we prosecuting them?” asked McCaskill, a former prosecutor. “Why aren’t we going after the employers who are knowingly cheating? They are creating an unfair competitive advantage and are a magnet that is helping draw people over the border…[Y]ou start taking businesses to court and actually punishing them for doing this, it is going to clean this up faster than all of the border agents in the world.”
“I am telling you, you are so right on this,” Crane replied. “If we are able to do this worksite thing, we are going to shut down so much of this illegal immigration and everything that goes with it.”
Witness for the hearing included Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council, Anthony M. Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, and Chris Crane, President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council.
McCaskill has previously pushed for a crackdown on employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers. In January 2009, during the confirmation hearings for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, McCaskill questioned her about the country’s dismal record of prosecuting employers who ignore immigration laws and how the Obama Administration planned to address it. And in April 2009, during confirmation hearings for John Morton, head of DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), McCaskill urged Morton to prioritize employer enforcement activities. In response, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines and regulations that increased attention and resources on prosecuting employers who violate our nation’s immigration laws.
McCaskill has been a longtime advocate for increasing border security, and last month toured the U.S.-Mexico border to learn more about what Customs and Border Patrol needs to increase border security. McCaskill’s efforts in 2010 led to the placement of 1,000 new border patrol agents, new unmanned aerial vehicles, improved communication equipment and more to monitor the border without adding to the deficit. In 2012, her bipartisan bill to combat illegal underground border tunnels—cosponsored by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona—passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed into law. And bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to address the country’s broken system in 2013 that McCaskill supported would have added 20,000 enforcement agents to the U.S.-Mexico border, while financing the construction of 700 miles of border fence and aerial drones to monitor the border.