Two disturbing cases highlight the serious problems with the nation’s immigration laws under the Obama administration; In one, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accused a local police department of racial profiling for arresting two previously deported illegal immigrants and turning them over to federal authorities for removal. In the other, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged a public school district with discrimination for verifying the immigration status of its employees.
The first case comes out of New Llano, a Louisiana town of about 2,500 near the Texas border. In the course of doing their job, a pair of police officers approached two men standing outside a motel and requested identification. The men—Jose Adan Fugon-Cano and Gustavo Barahona-Sanchez—could not produce valid ID and the officers detained them. It turns out that both are illegal immigrants who had been previously deported. Llano police turned them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and both were eventually sent back to their native Honduras.
A local immigrant advocacy group filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of the men prior to their removal and DHS, the umbrella agency that oversees ICE, launched an investigation. The director of DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), Megan Mack, determined that the illegal aliens had been ethnically profiled by police and should not be removed from the country. In an electronic mail to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña, Mack writes that “CRCL has significant concerns with the actions of local law enforcement in this matter.” She also writes that “it seems clear that the arrest was based on their ethnicity and the way they were awaiting pickup for a job” and orders ICE to release both men from custody and seek “closure of their removal actions.”
The second case involves a large public school district in south Florida. Before hiring employees to work in the taxpayer-funded enterprise, the district of about 350,000 mostly Hispanic students likes to verify that candidates are in the country legally. According to the Obama administration this is illegal and discriminates against employees in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). So, the DOJ’s bloated Civil Rights Division went after Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) for discrimination and essentially forced it to stop checking if employees are authorized to work in the U.S.
The department’s investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), found that MDCPS required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents to prove their employment eligibility, a DOJ announcement states. “The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying an employee’s authorization to work,” according to the DOJ.
As part of a settlement with the feds, MDCPS will pay a $90,000 civil penalty and establish a $125,000 fund to compensate individuals who lost wages because the district checked their immigration status. The agreement also forces the district to undergo “compliance monitoring” for three years and allow the DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to train students on “worker rights.”
The Obama DOJ has also gone after private businesses for verifying workers’ immigration status. Last month Judicial Watch reported on a case involving a Nebraska meat packing company accused by the agency of discrimination for requiring employees to furnish proof that they are eligible to work legally in the U.S. The business, Nebraska Beef Ltd, was forced to pay a $200,000 civil penalty and provide uncapped back pay for individuals who lost wages because they couldn’t prove they are in the country legally. The company also had to agree to long term “compliance monitoring” by the feds.