Thursday, April 10, 2008

L.A. mayor to ICE: Back off

You've got to hand it to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

It's not enough for him to run a sanctuary city that ties the hands of law enforcement from reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities. No, this guy is an overachiever.

Villaraigosa sent a polite but pointed letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in which he took Chertoff and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to task for work-site raids on "non-exploitative" businesses -- raids, Villaraigosa said, that could have "severe and lasting effects" on L.A.'s economy.

"I am concerned that ICE enforcement actions are creating an impression that this region is somehow less hospitable to these critical businesses than other regions," Villaraigosa wrote ...

In his letter, Villaraigosa said ICE has targeted "established, responsible employers" in industries that have a "significant reliance on workforces that include undocumented immigrants."

"In these industries, including most areas of manufacturing, even the most scrupulous and responsible employers have no choice but to rely on workers whose documentation, while facially valid, may raise questions about their lawful presence," he wrote. He said ICE should spend its limited resources targeting employers who exploit wage and hour laws.
In other words, come on, ICE; everyone employs illegal immigrants, so let's focus on those that also violate wage and hour laws.

SIDEBAR: I heard a rumor that Villaraigosa is going to propose moving ICE out of Homeland Security and into the Department of Labor. Instead of immigrations and customs enforcement, they will now be used as a quasi-worker's rights outfit. END SIDEBAR
OK, that's not true. But it might as well be.

If I was Michael Chertoff, my response would read something like this:

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,

Thank you for your comments regarding the activities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Los Angeles. We are gratified to hear of your shared concern for the safety and security of American citizens.

I appreciate your suggestion and am prepared to incorporate it into ICE directives. As mayor, you no doubt have information about many of these businesses in violation of wage and hour laws, and since I know we share the same goal of enforcing the immigration laws of the United
States, I know we can count on you to pass that information along to us.

I will direct my deputy to await your telephone call, which I am sure is imminent. Simply provide us with the names of these businesses, their owners and/or their locations, and we will be pleased to dispatch our agents to those locations posthaste.

Thank you in advance for the myriad tips I know you will provide to us. It's good to know that the leadership of Los Angeles is a willing partner in the enforcement of the immigration and customs laws of the United States of America.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Chertoff
You think that's funny? Wait! There's more:

"At a time when we are facing an economic downturn and gang violence at epidemic levels, the federal government should focus its resources on deporting criminal gang members rather than targeting legitimate businesses," said Matt Szabo, the mayor's spokesman.
See, now the Chertoff letter needs editing:

P.S. Mayor Villaraigosa, I am glad that we see eye to eye on the need to deport criminal gang members. Since you feel this way, I know you are anxious to do your part. Thank you for instructing your local police officers to now identify, detain and transfer custody of those found to be in violation of U.S. immigration laws. Your decision will make deportation much easier, and it will no doubt assist us in removing from this country members of a dangerous criminal element that contributes to your city's gang problem. I look forward to working with you to eradicate gangs from Los Angeles.
Whatever else you can say about Antonio Villaraigosa, the guy has some cojones. Unfortunately, intellect and cojones rarely come in equal measure -- and L.A.'s mayor is a good example.

...and then there's this: The L.A. City Council
has agreed to turn over the city's gang intervention and prevention programs to the Mayor's Office. Villaraigosa will now have unrestricted control of the estimated $19 million the city spends annually to address the city's gang violence; after 18 months, the City Council will review his progress.

Think a change to the city's sanctuary status will be in the offing?

Yeah ... me neither.