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Friday, April 21, 2006

-Guyanese illegal immigrants among the concerned

One thousand illegal immigrant workers were rounded up as arrests marked the unveiling of what the Bush administration said is a new strategy aimed at companies employing illegal immigrants.

According to a CNN report, with immigration reform being one of the major issues facing the U.S president during his second term, Federal agents instituted a crackdown on the German-based firm IFCO Systems.

Law enforcement officials will “use all the tools we have, whether it be criminal enforcement or immigration laws to break the back” of businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants, CNN quoted Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as saying at a news conference.

“We're looking at them in the same way we look at criminal organizations,” he said.

Federal immigration authorities arrested nine people linked to IFCO Systems and rounded up more than 1,000 illegal immigrants in multi-state raids, federal law enforcement officials said.

Federal authorities checked a sample of 5,800 IFCO employee records last year and found that 53 percent had faulty Social Security numbers, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said.

While not this specific case, the new moves have tremendous implications for Guyanese in the Diaspora as a significant number of this country's citizens have illegally taken up residence in The United States of America.

With no amnesty in sight and no guarantee that a proposed guest worker program and a passageway to legal status will pass in both the U.S Senate and Congress, illegal Guyanese workers must be joining other nationalities in fearing the worst which is arrest and deportation.

The effects of mass arrests and deportations will have a domino effect on the Guyana economy as a remittance from the United States forms a large part of the Guyanese economy.

U.S estimates have placed the remittance figures from the Diaspora to Guyana in the tens of millions of U.S dollars annually.

While there has not been any official word from the local foreign affairs ministry on this latest development, one sister CARICOM country is preparing for the fallout. The Barbados Honorary Consul to the United States is already on record this week advising that country's citizens of the implications of the proposed measures.

According to CNN, A yearlong investigation of the company at the centre of the bust revealed that IFCO managers had induced illegal aliens to work there, telling some to doctor W-2 tax forms and others that no documentation was needed at all.

As public concern in the U.S over illegal immigration grows, federal law enforcement officials have sought to tighten enforcement of immigration laws, through criminal charges against those who employ illegal aliens. Those charges would include money laundering, alien harboring, illegal alien employment and wire fraud. At his press conference, Chertoff said that under the Secure Borders Initiative, law enforcement officials would detect and catch those who cross the border illegally; detain and return them to their home countries; and target those already in the United States .

Of particular importance are illegal immigrant smuggling operations, which have become a multibillion dollar business.