Nearly 20 years ago, Mark Reed, then a top boss for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, sent agents into Nebraska to crack down on meatpackers hiring immigrants who were in the country illegally.
Agents pored over records to ferret out forged documents or fake Social Security numbers, and thousands of workers, fearful of being caught without papers, fled the state.
Reed thought the effort, Operation Vanguard, could become a national model to shut down a magnet for illegal immigration, and he said as much to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) during a congressional hearing on immigration while Vanguard was underway.
“The neon light is on. It has been for decades, and that neon light is driven by jobs,” Reed testified. “As long as those jobs are available, those people are going to come in.”
Smith thought otherwise. “Deportation is the strongest deterrent to illegal immigration,” he said.
Soon after that 1999 hearing, political blowback prompted the agency to halt Operation Vanguard, and officials turned their focus to apprehending immigrants and militarizing the Southwest border.
It was a huge win for U.S. companies who exploit foreign workers in the country illegally.
Read the whole story in the LA Times