Like so much of the Trump administration’s decision-making, little thought appears to have gone into raiding 7-Eleven convenience stores in a sweep to nab illegal immigrants.
Similarly, like so many federal government decisions, the raids don’t seem to take unintended consequences into account.
In all, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, more commonly known as ICE, swept into dozens of 7-Elevens in 17 states and the District of Columbia. It was the biggest raid so far by the Trump administration to help keep the president’s campaign promise of getting illegal immigrants out of the country.
The administration and ICE’s theory is that such raids will act as a message to illegal immigrants that their time in the United States may be limited, and that smaller businesses are being targeted because that’s where the bulk of illegal hiring occurs. The raids also are designed to eliminate such hiring opportunities for undocumented workers, because such hiring is a “pull factor” that acts as a magnate.
That all seems logical, in a way, but what the strategy lacks is a hard target, a true end game. For example, what happens if the Trump administration continues to apply pressure on illegal workers, and eventually dries up that labor pool?
We can tell you what happens — this nation could be in deep economic trouble.
We’ve watched a microcosmic example unfold here on the Central Coast, with growers who have been using migrant, often-undocumented workers to work crops. As the crackdowns have intensified, that work force has all but disappeared, and consumer prices have skyrocketed. One would assume that a similar labor shortage may now occur in the convenience-store industry.
That will accomplish another of Trump’s campaign promises, to create more jobs for American citizens. However, first one must find American citizens who will take such baseline jobs. All indications are citizens will not line up to be hired.
ICE arrests of undocumented workers have spiked 40 percent since Trump took office last January, and several industries are already showing the strain when it comes to hiring willing workers.
The 7-Eleven raids resulted in 21 arrests, all store employees, and all lacking the proper papers. One wonders about the cost-effectiveness of a 17-state federal agency sweep that nabs 21 low-wage workers.
ICE officials are being very selective in their enforcement efforts, which raises the question of why agents aren’t storming the doors of properties owned by the Trump family. Does anyone really, truly believe there aren’t undocumented workers at those properties?
The Trump administration is all about public-relations stunts to put on a show of keeping the president’s campaign promises — and nothing to do with working out a deal to allow foreign workers to take U.S. jobs that many citizens will not take.
Again, the field-worker situation is a prime example. All one has to do is visit a local growing operation, especially at harvest time, and see the kind of work being done. The average citizen wouldn’t last a day working in those conditions.
The ICE sweeps put on a photo-op show, but what this nation really needs is a commonsense immigration policy that recognizes the value of having a viable work force at every level of the economy. The policy should include provisions for removing the criminal element, but not workers who are abiding by our laws — except for the part about crossing the border illegally in search of a job.
There is no reason to cripple the U.S economy for the sake of politics.