As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Zombies Still Afoot

I think we have to be somewhat careful characterizing actions by federal agencies as actions by "the Obama Administration" at this point, unless they are carried out by the cabinet secretaries themselves. We are only a month into their tenure, and not nearly enough of the decision-makers from the past regime have been winnowed out. A case in point is the ICE raid in Bellingham, Washington this week.

After federal agents raided Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. and detained 28 employees Tuesday, Feb. 24, company officials expressed dismay about how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers handled the matter.

"They arrived in force," said Asiff Dhanani, a co-owner of the company at 2020 E. Bakerview Road. "They surrounded the whole perimeter."

Most of the workers detained were taken off in handcuffs, Dhanani said, except for three women who apparently were processed and released because they had children in local schools or daycare centers. The 28 made up about one-third of the engine remanufacturing company's production force.

"Some of these guys have been with us a long time," Dhanani said, adding that at least two of the workers detained Tuesday had been cleared by an earlier federal immigration audit that began in 2005 and was competed in 2006.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was on Capitol Hill yesterday, and was questioned about this in a hearing, and she claimed she didn't know about it until after the fact:

Workplace raids involving the arrests of hundreds of illegal immigrants at a time became almost routine in the last years of the Bush administration, but Napolitano's response to Tuesday's raid at a Bellingham, Wash., manufacturing plant highlighted the Obama administration's much different approach to a hot-button issue.

Napolitano told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she did not know about the raid before it happened and was briefed on it early Wednesday morning. She has asked U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested 28 illegal immigrants in the raid, for answers.

"I want to get to the bottom of this as well," she said. She said work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.

This doesn't appear to be the policy of the Administration. But it takes some time to filter that down to the local level of enforcement agents. If this is still happening next year, I wouldn't be so lenient. But at this point, I'm willing to understand that there is going to be some lag as the new Administration comes in.

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