The Washington Post’s attacks on Acting Attorney General Matthews Whitaker continue with an “expose” of actions he took as a U.S. attorney to combat illegal immigration. Post reporter Michael Kranish traveled to Marshalltown, Iowa to get the goods on Whitaker.
The “goods” consist of efforts to enforce U.S. immigration law against an employer one-third of whose workforce consisted of illegal immigrants. The Post learned that some town officials, including the mayor, wish Whitaker had turned a blind eye to the violations of U.S. law.
At Whitaker’s direction, apparently, federal agents raided a meat-packaging plant. They arrested nearly 100 illegal immigrant workers, along with a union official accused of harboring illegals, and a company official. Some, but not all of the illegals were deported. The Post doesn’t tell us how many were.
The town’s mayor complained to the Post that, as a result of the raid, employers have trouble finding workers. That claim is in tension with the Post’s reporting that “large numbers of undocumented [i.e. illegal] immigrants continue to live in Marshalltown.” The Post seems to want it both ways. Whitaker’s action was ineffectual, but had bad effects.
In any event, Whitaker was neither the mayor of Marshalltown nor the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. His job was to enforce the law without worrying about who profits and who loses from illegal immigration (there are always both winners and losers).
To be sure, U.S. Attorney’s have discretion over how they deploy law enforcement resources. But this was not a case of Whitaker tracking down stray illegal immigrants. The meat-packaging plant was flagrantly violating U.S. immigration law.
To turn a blind eye when employers populate their plants with large numbers of illegal immigrants — one-third of the workforce in this case — is to nullify the prohibition against hiring illegals. Whitaker should be commended for not doing so.
Marshalltown’s mayor, a Democrat, told the Post, “If I had a magic wand, I would wave it and stop the ICE raids and figure out how to let people come in as immigrants legally and fill our plants.” Plenty of people feel that way.
Nor is it hard to figure out how to accomplish what the mayor wants. If broad support existed for his pro-business, pro-illegal immigrant vision, the legislation required to fulfill it would write itself.
However, until then — until the law does “let people come in as immigrants legally and fill our plants” — U.S. Attorneys should be praised, not attacked, when they take action against flagrant violations of immigration law.