Immigration – Enforcing Laws At The Border And At The Workplace

BOSTON (CBS) – Immigration reform is a simmering debate in this country and there’s no disputing the fact that we are a nation of immigrants.

WBZ News Radio’s Mary Blake continues her week-long report Immigration: The American Dream.

“We have individuals that are trying to gain access to our country who rightly do not have a legitimate reason to visit. On average we send back 4,300 people that come to the border.”

Kevin Weeks, director of the Boston field office for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in a rare Boston office interview, talks about trusted traveler programs that Homeland Security is hoping more of the legal American traveling public will sign onto in order to free up agents to go after illegals– these programs allow vetted individuals to bypass customs and process themselves using a kiosk as they re-enter the country.

70-thousand are currently enrolled.

“It’s really done in partnership. It’s their contribution to help us…manage the border in a much more efficient way.”

ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the other enforcement arm under Homeland Security refused an interview request, but did supply its Boston enforcement numbers: 1,047 convicted criminals and 1,943  non-criminals were removed in  fiscal 2010.

The flip side of the illegal immigration crackdown is going after U.S. businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Here in Massachusetts, the  Patrick administration  formed a joint enforcement task force on the underground economy two years ago and in its annual report, noted  nearly 6.5 million dollars was recovered in fiscal 2010.

Task force head George Noel says it’s about fairness, “depending on the study we’re talking billions…billions of dollars a year that are lost in revenue.”

The task force relies on workers coming forward and that includes illegals according to Noel, “that drives the problem underground [when] we start asking questions about immigration status.”

How do illegal immigrants find work?

Renata, here illegally since she was 6, says it’s easy, “you can always find a job. It’s not going to be the best job. maybe cleaning houses…working at a store.”

She’s done both, cleaned houses and worked at a donut shop.

E-verify is a voluntary program that specifically ensures companies are hiring legal workers.

It’s run jointly by the Social Security Administration and  Homeland Security Immigration Services says as of fiscal 2010, 228-thousand New England employers have signed on.

Northeastern’s Center of Labor Market Studies estimates there are 400-thousand payroll business establishments in New England which means nearly half of affected businesses haven’t stepped up.

Immigration attorney Joshua Goldstein offers an  explanation, “our immigration laws are so restrictive, there’s practically no way for the business community to meet its labor needs through immigration legally.”

But Matt Fitzgerald disagrees. He owns Mann Orchards in Methuen which his family has been operating for 133 years.

He employs 3 Jamaican workers each fall thru the H2A program and calls them the backbone of his operation, “currently, I have three gentlemen up from Jamaica working for us and without them my other 53 employees would not have jobs.”

 WBZ News Radio’s Mary Blake reports on Immigration: The American Dream.

More on the politics surrounding the immigration debate in our next report.

More from Mary Blake
  • beaches

    I just don’t get how these immigrants can stay in this country, I can’t get over the border to go to Canada without a passport, it’s rediculous!

  • Hackwannabe

    I can’t see how you add the successful migrant farm worker program into the story of ILLEGAL workers? What is up with that?

  • Jim

    Illegals; They only know one code; LIE, CHEAT and STEAL

  • Jim

    Most illegals are unfortunately employed by ignorant homeowners who go for price rather than due diligence. Employers do not employ nearly as many illegals as homeowners. The illegals run illegal companies and pocket 100% of the money. What most homeowners are not aware of is the domestic help law passed by congress and enforced by the IRS some years ago. When you employ anyone that is not a legal company you become the employer. You are responsible for all taxes, FICA, SSI, and yes penalties for not filing. Due diligence; check references, insurance, bonding, etc… Imagine we trust our number one possesions to people that we know nothing about; our children and homes are not worth due dilligence? We check the freshness date on a carton of milk; however; we fail to check the background of the person that will care for our children. I can sum this up in one word “SAD”

  • Jim


    For those of you that state that we are a nation of immigrants or that anyone that states that illegals need to go home are racist; you are lame and do not deserve any recognition.

    #1. I am Passamaquoddy indian; 2000 plus year residency on North America.

    #2. You are the racist; when has anyone other than you classified the illegals as minorities; we have illegals from all walks of life.

    Quite frankly you make me laugh; ignorance and stupidity are sad qualities; I would prefer that all of you leave my land and go back to where you came from. You have destroyed a once civilized land!

  • Roberto S

    What Mary forgot to mention, is that the cost of hiring an illegal immigrant is the same as a legal one. So it is not the savings that corporations/small companies are going after. The reality is that immigrants work twice as hard, without complaints and they are very flexible. That is the meat of the story.
    To write story like this, it is important to uncover all the aspects and to have a real an honest and transparent dialog.
    Harrasing employers with additional paperwork, enforcement, will increase the cost, decrease employment, raise your taxes and in the end we achieve nothing.
    If there are Jobs someone is bound to do it. If the Jobs go, employees will go, legal and illegal. Here another fact, there is virtually no umemployment among illiegal immiigrants. That tells me that there is work that some people don’t want to do. Another fact, they pay taxes, usually throug fake papers, best part they pay in to social security but they can’t get benefits back. Also, they pay sales taxes, excise taxes, every other form of taxes and fees. So the real problem here is the word “illegal”, so remove it, change the laws, we will all be happier, it is cheaper and it make sences.

    • john l

      You right Roberto S. Hope they keep reading your notes before they say anything.

    • vhette

      MEXICAN TRASH GO HOME! YOURE NOT WANTED! Youre days r ‘el numbered!

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