Journalism in the Public Interest

Journalist’s Story Highlights Patchwork of Immigration Laws


An illegal immigrant is processed by sheriff's deputies working in Maricopa County, Ariz., on July 29, 2010. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

In a first-person story in the New York Times Magazine this week, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas confessed his status as an undocumented immigrant, bringing renewed attention to the ever-simmering, never-solved issue of immigration reform. The account is garnering plenty of attention—and scrutiny—for Vargas.

But less noticed amid the chatter is how the piece highlights the United States' hodgepodge of immigration laws. 

For instance, Vargas named a number of close mentors who helped him in matters related to his legal status. Under recent immigration laws passed in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama, the provision of such help—specifically, harboring or shielding undocumented immigrants—has been criminalized. (Key parts of Arizona’s law were blocked by a federal judge, though this particular section wasn’t one of them.)

A number of states also recently passed laws expanding the use of E-Verify—a mostly voluntary Homeland Security program that lets companies check the eligibility of prospective employees.

In his account, Vargas writes that he had concerns about being identified through E-Verify, but that he always managed to land on payroll anyway. It’s unclear whether any of his employers ever ran him through the system, but it’s also not guaranteed that he would have been detected if they had.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the program “accurately detects the status of unauthorized workers almost half of the time.” Immigration advocates have opposed the use of E-Verify, arguing that it’s ineffective at identifying undocumented workers and that mistakes could cause U.S. citizens and legal workers to be denied employment.

Most states don’t require employers use E-Verify. But a number of states have made checks mandatory—sometimes with surprising results.

Georgia’s recently passed law requiring businesses to run employees through E-Verify hasn’t even gone into effect yet, but has already left the state’s agricultural industry in a lurch—with a sudden shortage of workers and millions of dollars’ worth of rotting crops. Here’s what AFP reported today:

But as the full cost of the immigration reform emerges in the form of an estimated millions of dollars worth of crops rotting in fields, it could alarm other states that have passed or are considering similar strict measures.

Georgia labor officials estimate a shortage of some 11,000 workers in the agriculture sector, and the state has enacted a program where people on probation, who often have difficulty finding jobs, are sent into the fields.

Whatever the problems with the program, more states are signing on. South Carolina’s governor is on the verge of signing a bill that requires businesses to run employees through E-Verify and penalizes them for knowingly employing undocumented workers. Arizona’s law requiring E-Verify was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. North Carolina has an E-Verify bill in the works that exempts agriculture companies.

The immigration bill-writing bonanza by the states could still run into trouble in federal courts. Judges in Indiana and Georgia still have to rule on whether those states’ new immigration laws can take effect next month.

Another federal judge in Utah has to decide whether a law passed last month in Utah—which was temporarily blocked because of its resemblance to Arizona’s—should be permanently blocked.

President Obama has said that immigration system needs reform but that he won’t accept “a patchwork of 50 states” acting on their own to address the issue. As we noted last year, the Obama administration has deported illegal immigrants in record numbers even while immigration courts across the country—which face record backlogs—have been dismissing more deportation cases.

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton released a memo authorizing the agency to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” [PDF] in the enforcement of immigration laws and prioritize the types of individuals it should take action against. “The agency is confronted with more administrative violations than its resources can address,” Morton wrote.

According to the memo, ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should consider an individual’s manner of entry and age of entry, pursuit of education, military service, criminal history, family relationships and other factors when making enforcement decisions.

At the moment, it’s unclear what authorities will do about Vargas, a prominent figure whose admission that he violated the laws of a broken immigration system will no doubt provoke strong feelings on both sides of the debate. Since giving his account, Vargas has publicly pushed for passage of the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who seek to go to college or serve in the military, or who had been brought to the United States at a young age. His attorneys have said that he knows “there are no guarantees about what comes next.”

I have an idea! Why doesn’t he just go back to his home land and get job as a journalist at a local newspaper. He can set an example to all illegal aliens –they too can find success in their home country.

And I’ve got an even better one,not only Free Trade for Corporations, Free Trade for Labour!

I have yet a better idea—Jose can go to school and learn some grammar.

Boo, f-ing hoo for the illegal alien invader.  Cry me a river.  Send his ass back!

It should be a CRIMINAL act for ILLEGALS to be anywhere in the US, even if they haven’t committed a “crime”—this is more liberal bull talk to get around actually enforcing the laws or strengthening them to make it tough for illegals to live in the US!

I love these “go back to your country” people (especially since that is not their country either, lol). They want illegal workers because they are cheap and work in the unsafest of conditions, but when they start getting the good jobs, these people panic, because they know they can’t compete with hard working immigrants.

In the end, all this talk is bull, because the immigration laws are always tweaked to allow just enough illegals in, but keep them out of the good jobs, otherwise what happened in Georgia would happen everywhere. Beware, though, rednecks! Your jobs aren’t as good as you’d like to think.

American jobs for American citizens. Record number of American’s out of work and would gladly stand behind a counter or mow grass if those jobs were available. My children and maybe yours had summer jobs for spending money while in college. Those jobs no longer exist, each and everyone is done by illegals. I’m not mad that them, I would probably cross the border for a better life for me and mine but I blame the government for turning a blind eye during this time of crisis.

@April ignorance is bliss my dear! “Illegal alien invader” HA! I suggest you educate yourself by possibly getting a refresher course on American History. I am an AMERICAN BORN CITIZEN, and I even think that your comments are injudicious. If your definition of an “Illegal alien invader” is one who immigrated to the United States from their country to seek refuge or a better life… then my dear, your grandparents, great grandparents, maybe even your own parents should have their “ass sent back.”  Unless you live in one of the approximately 310 Indigenous Reservations of the United States; I further suggest that you mark your words carefully! Those you love and or the honor of your own ancestry lies in the truth of imprudently stated comments like yours! America is not defined by the blonde hair blue eyed image that many would like to stigmatize it as being. America is defined by the beautifully stated emblem on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ...NOW THAT’S AMERICAN!!!!!

@ Laurie, I completely agree with you to a certain extent. The Government is turning a blind eye during this time of crises… but we as Americans tend to blame the immigrants without really opening our eyes. How many times have you gone to a CVS, Grocery Store, Wal-Mart, etc and done the self check out?!? I went to a CVS who had 1 Human operated register JUST 1! The rest were machines! Or how about every time you call any US BASED COMPANY and you are spending 10-15 minutes talking to an automated service? We have had Immigrants in the US since our Founding Fathers landed on the shores of America…One of the major changes from then and now is technology… let’s STOP BLAMING IMMIGRANTS WHO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COMING ON OUR SHORES… and start blaming the REAL culprit… Big Corps that spend a lot of money on machines cutting down overhead costs to get the job done, while taking away potential jobs!

@Maion, Didn’t we have this discussion already, at around the 1600s? I don’t think it’s dignified for a human to have a job that can be performed by a machine. Charlie Chaplin’s movies come to mind right now…

@Siderite, if you would kindly re-read my post you would come to see that the jobs that I mentioned are customer-service related occupations. As a consumer, I would much more rather be greeted by a friendly face that can ask me how my day is going or if I found everything I needed; than a computer that simply wants my money and club card. Also, the aforementioned automated services simply aggravate me because it has wasted 10 minutes of my life trying to decipher what I am calling about, only to transfer me to a representative anyways! I further believe that the approximately 13.9 million unemployed Americans would much rather put labels on a box at a factory (a job that indeed can be performed more efficiently by a machine) than be unemployed due to someone deeming that job not “dignified”. IDK about you, but I personally feel that it is more important to provide for myself, my family, and in turn induce the economy by receiving the alleged “undignified” check and contribute as a working American; than help Big Corporations in their overhead cost and productivity.  My father has been a labor worker/ factory worker for more than 30 years and I NEVER ONCE questioned his dignity. He provided for us and I can’t recall a moment in life where I wanted for anything….In conclusion, I firmly believe that the 13.9 percent unemployed Americans should not blame the fault solely on people who are coming to American soil in search for what is promised in our Constitution and our Statue of Liberty… we should be blaming the Big Wigs of America who feel money in their pocket and over exhausting production is more important than our economy… Tis All :)

What the Obama administration needs to do is truly reveal the annual cost of illegal immigration at the Federal level? That every US State should also notify the general public of the money that is released to subsidize illegal aliens in each state?  Mexican journalist Evangelina Hernandez having done her own statistical review concluded America pays out $338.3 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, CATERING TO ILLEGAL ALIENS THAT COULD BE SAVED FOR THE LEGAL US TAXPAYERS   Bob Dane Communications Director for FAIR, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Kristen Williamson is Communications Assistant for FAIR, named the most abusive States, This is a reflection of poor immigration policy and those heading a black list is the Sanctuary State of California, followed closely by Montgomery County, Maryland, Washington State, Chicago, Illinois and New haven, Connecticut.

Dane states, “Despite California’s $26 billion budget deficit, the state spends $21.5 billion dollars annually subsidizing illegal alien health care, education, welfare, other state benefits and criminal justice. Every California native-born household chips in $2438 each year to help.” The assertive Liberal Capitol of Sacramento need to be Tarred and feathered as in the 18th Century and driven from their State Congressional seats for good.  I think Mr. Dane has drastically underestimated the illegal alien invaders counted, as it wouldn’t surprise me if there was 3.2 million in the San Fernando Valley? And some of the most abusive States where US citizens and permanent residence get the rough end of the financial stick. One state that Mr. Dane failed to mention is Democrat-Lib Sen. Harry Reid’s Nevada.

The State of Nevada is gaining a negative reputation for an invasion of the Desert State and the thousands silently employed in Casino’s and entertainment industry. It’s become a very painful fiscal situation in the last three decades as Starting with Arizona; it’s possible the American people—HAVE FINALLY AWAKEN—from the mesmerism dream and having been taken for a astronomical dollar ride. It’s not just the illegal alien prominent Liberal State of California, but nationwide? Every US State has been overrun by economic illegal aliens, leeching from government handouts. Every State has serious money troubles that will not cease until the US Government really secures the border with military deployment, the incessant upgrades of a mandatory E-Verify system of operation in every American business, to include Secure Communities that demands cooperation between ICE and all municipal police.

There is a giant mass departure evolving around the country as illegal aliens scatter towards more tolerant States. Multitudes of foreign nationals, already are heading for the once sparkling state of California, Nevada that are the main refuge locations. But now that business has used their money influences in Texas, Illinois and other open States. The illegal immigrant dregs of Alabama, Tennessee and States constructing zero-tolerance policies will be in their rear view mirror, but geared up to start harvesting the public entitlement programs. In New Haven, Connecticut the council allowed illegal aliens to be issued county ID to anybody, without the need for official documents regardless of their immigration status. Absolute are the United States of America money troubles, with the Liberal Democrats wondering if the 14 Trillion tax ceiling isn’t raised, how are they going to support the propagating illegal immigrants of either over stays or from South of the border?

If the State of Washington is issuing Drivers Licenses with nothing more than a fake SSA number and a utility bill, then this country is heading for a dung heap. Washington will even accept a phony Mexican Matrícula Consular ID cards as proof of identification. You can even get the DL using a fake birth Certificate. Many US States are in violation of the Federal Immigration laws, by not introducing “Secure Communities” that give ICE and Homeland Security access to fingerprints of any person who comes into their jurisdiction.

What the Liberal backed Congress hasn’t reckoned on, is the growing appearance of the TEA PARTY, with its agenda

Journalist Evangelina Hernandez also stated to her interviewer Tina Griego, journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News if illegal aliens moved back to Mexico or other countries, it would leave just California an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupt hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the dominant language again.

Very interesting today that California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law into effect, that retailers on the internet must collect sales tax, to assist in reducing the 26 billion dollar state deficit. But it’s my view that they should start a zero-tolerance policy on removing the illegal alien invaders, who are stealing peoples ID and raping the welfare system.

Judge the TEA PARTY on its merits as it will return our god given right to free speech, dissolve the corruption of the “Politically Correct” concept, and reduce the Federal government to limits as written in the US Constitution and the taxing of the people less. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and TEA PARTY chair person will lead this final battle and make President Obama a one term president. The administration has paid out a trillion dollars in bailouts and the useless stimulus package and still wants to spend over another Trillion dollars (According to the nonprofit Heritage Foundation) to process and legitimize the 20 million plus illegal alien occupants, squatting in America. Any true American whose sees the failing of previous Administration and its Presidents, influenced by the elites in Washington, lobbyists that for money and power and the best benefits that concealed cash can by. Under Michele Bachmann’s watch there will be—NO AMNESTY—of any kind, Sanctuary Cities and States policies will be eradicated; No DREAM ACT, as like most are connected to more Chain Migration and of these deceiving programs encourages further illegal immigration to our shores and borders. We must elect a strong willed leader who will secure our borders and cautasize the loophole for the babies of illegal aliens and the family living like ghouls of the financial flesh of US taxpayers.

You should also introduce yourself to the people who run this devastated country at the Senate—202-224–3121/ House—202-225–3121. You can also find out the truth of what illegal immigration is costing the average American, stolen by IRS government agents and politicians to pacify the growing population of foreign nationals. Since the inception of the 1986 immigration law, to push through the innocuous amnesty, it has never worked.


Attn: Thousands of my blog followers have asked me to start my own website, but I have refrained from this, as I have been threatened in the past.

My son in law was deported in 2010 after getting his I130approved.He was.a non criminal locked up for four months.Later on deported ad tHe was a non criminal.Story on the net Called Deportation by Association AN AMERICAN IN EXILE.How is my son in law any different than Vargas??At least my son in law tried to do things the Right aWay!!!!!!

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