House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.



Committee Statement

May 20, 2008

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Wilson Statement: Subcommittee Hearing on “ICE Workplace Raids: Their Impact on U.S. Children, Families and Communities"

Good Morning Chairwoman Woolsey.

Thank you for convening this hearing on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) efforts to enforce our immigration laws. I’m particularly pleased that ICE will be here this morning to discuss the policies they have developed to handle the humanitarian issues that are the subject of today’s hearing. 

An unfortunate byproduct of the failure to overhaul the immigration system has been a large number of non-work eligible individuals working in the United States, establishing families, and putting roots down in our communities only to have their lives upended when it is discovered that they are here illegally.  This is damaging to everyone involved, from the workers and their families to the employers who, in many cases, are unknowingly employing ineligible workers.  However, unlike many problems facing our nation, this is one to which there is an obvious – albeit incomplete – solution: a sound employee verification system.

The issue is so important to me that I am a cosponsor of the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act (or SAVE Act), H.R. 4088 and the New Employee Verification Act (or NEVA), H.R. 5515.    

I would encourage Congress to take action on immigration reform by allowing a vote on H.R. 4088. To date, 188 members have signed a discharge petition to bring that bill – offered by a member of the majority party – to a vote by the full House.  Still, the majority has refused to allow an up-or-down vote. 

Congress must continue to work to improve our immigration system to eliminate just the issues this hearing is designed to address.  But it is unreasonable for us to narrow our focus to just one small issue in the larger challenge posed by our broken borders and flawed immigration system.  For instance, this committee has not yet explored the prevalence of identity theft, nor the scourge of illegal drug trafficking, both of which are closely linked with our system that permits illegal immigration.

Just last week, it was reported that the largest-ever immigration raid took place in Iowa, with nearly 400 people arrested.  Of interest to our hearing today, an article by the Associated Press reported that “56 were released on humanitarian grounds, typically because their arrest would leave a child with no custodian.  A handful were released because of medical conditions.”  Madam Chair, I would request that the article be included in the record of today’s hearing.

Clearly, the article shows that steps are being taken to address the humanitarian concerns we’re looking at today.  But the article also brings to light another issue that we are not considering today.  From the same article, and I quote, “Everyone arrested Monday has been charged with immigration violations. So far 20 of them also have been arrested on a variety of criminal charges, including aggravated identity theft and false use of Social Security numbers.”

So, while I appreciate the opportunity to examine these issues before us today, I would like to state for the record my disappointment at the majority’s unwillingness to allow real action on immigration reform.  Talk is not enough.  Hearings will not divert the attention of the American people, and ignoring some of the most troubling side effects of our broken immigration system will not be enough.  We need real action.