Friday, April 21, 2006

catch and release, or should i be a thief or an immigrant?

the indy star has more on the undocumented immigrants who were arrested wednesday and then given court dates and released:

With no prospects for work in Mexico, Arturo Cuagtle figured he had two choices: turn to robbery or leave his family and emigrate north.

So, seven years ago, he left Mexico for Indiana. He was working at IFCO Systems on Wednesday, assembling wooden pallets for 30 cents apiece, he said, when federal agents arrived and began arresting people.

At IFCO, he said, he averaged $600 to $700 a week if he made about 600 pallets a day. He said he pays taxes, and the money he earns supports his family -- a wife and three children, ages 6, 5 and 4, who live in Mexico.

"It was a necessity to leave them," Cuagtle said after his release Thursday afternoon. "It's hard in our country, and there's nothing else to do unless you rob someone, and it's more shameful to rob people than it is to be an immigrant."

i wonder if those who are so angry about immigration would be happier if people like arturo had remained in mexico and become thieves instead.

anyway, it looks like indy's ifco employees were making more than those in san antonio:

$0.30/pallet × 600 pallets/day = $180/day
and let's assume he's working the same 10-hour days, to keep the math easy:
$180/day ÷ 10 hours/day = $18/hour. can this be right?

the article mentions $600 to $700 a week, which would have to after taxes for the math to make any sense: remember that, despite what the people on the star message boards think, these workers were all paying income taxes, having the normal taxes withheld from their paychecks just like the rest of us do. but because they are using fake social security numbers, they can't file tax returns or else they could get caught. this means they don't get their refunds, and in essence, many undocumented immigrants are actuallly paying more taxes than US citizens are.

moving on:

As for the workers, immigration officials said they did not have the facilities to hold them indefinitely.

With 20,000 detention beds nationwide, Immigration and Customs spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said the agency has to prioritize. It focuses on holding illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. She said the system is not set up to detain every immigrant found to be in the country illegally.

"We need to conserve our detention space for illegal aliens that are dangerous criminals or who have been previously deported," Montenegro said.

If the arrested men don't show up at their hearings at a Chicago immigration court, a judge will order them deported in absentia, she said, and they will be classified as fugitives.

read that again: "the system is not set up to detain every immigrant found to be in the country illegally." we only have 20,000 detention beds, and despite the new halliburton contract to build more, we still have more illegal immigrants than detention beds by a ratio of almost 600-to-1. clearly criminalizing undocumented immigration, making it a felony or misdemeanor like many republicans want, isn't going to do a damn bit of good because enforcing such a rule is laughably unachievable.

but some people are upset that these immigrants aren't being detained indefinitely. i bet you can already guess one name: john hostettler, who wanted to arrest last week's protesters:

But at least one key congressional leader criticized the decision to release the Indianapolis workers.

U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., chairman of the immigration and border security panel on the House Judiciary Committee, blasted federal agents for not doing a better job of enforcing immigration laws after widespread protest marches April 10.

In an e-mail Thursday, he expressed disappointment at the release of the detainees.

"While I was initially encouraged by this apparent change in the administration's policy regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws," the e-mail said, "the return to the failed policy of catch and release leaves me less than optimistic that lessons have been learned."

i guess hostettler missed the ICE memo that these new raids are supposed to be targeted at employers who hire undocumented workers, and are not simply an excuse to round up a bunch of brown people and ship 'em over the border.

1 comment:

sis said...

actually the IRS will give anyone a TIN # Taxpayer ID, which they can use to pay taxes and file returns. However, the money paid in to Social Secuity gets stuck there until they become legal. Then they can petition to get credit for all the money they paid in (assuming they can prove it with w2 etc) and receive benefits after retirement. TIN numbers are more common than you would think, there are several banks that give mortgages to anyone that can prove via a TIN# and tax returns that they held a job and paid taxes for at least two years.