The Washington Post reports another dynamic to the most recent raid in Mississippi. It appears as though the fiasco of herding people into a “cattle-call arena” after the raid in Potsville Iowa, and setting up shop to prosecute, may not have been reprensetative of a Nation who espouses the consitutution as its “rule of law” primary legal document.
“I think Postville left a bitter taste for a lot of people,” said Robert R. Rigg, director of the criminal defense program at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, who has criticized the case. “It paints a pretty bleak picture of American criminal justice, and I don’t think it’s the type of thing the judiciary or main Justice wants to replicate.”
Charles H. Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, agreed, saying he thinks the Justice Department is changing course.
“They clearly did not enjoy the press they got after Postville. . . . It may be a shift in strategy from how bad Postville made them look as they eviscerated the Constitution, doing everything in one fell swoop with the involvement of the federal court.”
Almost 600 people were arrested in Howard Industries in Mississippi, but unlike Potsville, where an overwhelming majority were charged with felony crimes, all but eight at Howard Industries were charged criminally. The remaining several hundred were turned over for civil deporation hearings, a far cry from being charged criminally.
The federal government’s handling of a massive immigration raid at a Mississippi manufacturing plant last week has led critics to suggest that the Bush administration is backpedaling from its aggressive use of criminal charges and fast-tracked trials against illegal immigrants caught at workplaces.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency “continues to target egregious employers . . . to identify individuals engaging in identity theft, and we seek criminal charges where appropriate,” spokeswoman Kelly A. Nantel said.
Nonetheless, it was a stark departure from the way authorities conducted the previous record-setting sweep 15 weeks earlier.
“I don’t think it’s a shift away from what they ultimately want to do, which is to punish and deter people from using fraudulent identities to obtain work. It’s a different path to the same goal,” Kuck said.
But he added: “They could do one of these raids a day for the next six years and still not deter people from doing it.”
So, the question remains, WHY are we continuing a strategy that we KNOW will NOT create any long term solutions to immigration?