HAVE YOU EVER read a press release and the first thing on your mind is the question, “Why now?”
This happened to me just today.
Please consider the following news release from U.S. Immigrations and Customs:
“Fischer Homes Supervisors Charged With Harboring Illegal Aliens in Worksite Enforcement Investigation”:
Cincinnati.com is reporting, “80 People Arrested in ICE Raid of Fischer Homes”:
“Police took four supervisors and 76 undocumented workers into custody Tuesday in connection with a two-year investigation of Fischer Homes.
“The 76 suspected workers were picked up from at least three construction sites in Hebron, Union, and Florence, officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, said.
“Some were also taken into custody at their homes, according to the wife of one man taken away from an apartment complex in Florence.
“‘I was asleep when I was hearing the commotion around the apartment at about 6 a.m. When I came out, my husband was arrested with his two co-workers,’ she said. ‘I looked at him, and he started crying.’
“Those taken into custody will likely be sent back to their home countries if they can’t verify their U.S. citizenship. Most of those arrested were from Mexico…
“Four employees at Fischer’s headquarters in Crestview Hills were also taken into custody, charged with ‘aiding and abetting’ and ‘harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain.’
“* Timothy Copsy, a Fischer Homes construction manager
* Doug Witt, a Fischer Homes superintendent
* William Allison, a Fischer Homes superintendent
* Bill Ring, a Fischer Homes superintendent
“Each is facing a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. They all appeared in federal court in Covington Tuesday morning.
“‘ICE has no tolerance for corporate supervisors who harbor illegal aliens for their work force and deny labor opportunities for legitimate American employees,’ said ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers.
“ICE is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is led by Michael Chertoff. He commented on Tuesday’s raids.
“‘We will continue to bring criminal actions against employers who are consistently harboring illegal aliens,’ said Chertoff. ‘We will stop this type of illegal facilitation.’
“Fischer Homes released this statement:
“‘Fischer Homes utilizes a rigorous screening process for all of its employees, including citizenship verification. We require all subcontractors to sign a document promising they will use no aliens as employees. Fischer Homes does not in any way condone the use or hiring of illegal aliens.’
“A company spokesman went on to say he’s very proud of the Fischer Homes work force.”
I am not sure who Fischer Homes is (I never heard of them before), but they are now officially “burnt toast.” Then again, this is the United States. It is acceptable to be proud of harboring illegal aliens as long as you can get away with it.
The Mish telepathic question lines are now open. I am being swamped with questions, and there is lots of variety for a change. Let’s make a list:
1. Why now?
2. Is Fischer the only homebuilder hiring illegal aliens?
3. Is this an outlier or some kind of crackdown?
4. Why Ohio?
5. Is this Page 15 news headed for Page 1, or is this a local stunt?
6. If we are starting a serious crackdown on illegal aliens, what does that mean for the economy?
7. Are we starting a serious crackdown on illegal aliens?
8. Mish, do you really believe the “ICE has no tolerance for corporate supervisors who harbor illegal aliens for their work force and deny labor opportunities for legitimate American employees”?
1) The answer to “Why now?” is sort of obvious, even though it was the No. 1 question on everyone’s mind (mine included). The answer is that as long as other things were OK, corporations were making tons of money off hiring illegals. It now seems that jobs are not what they are made out to be, as I reported in “Jobs, Are They as Good as They Seem?” Bush’s approval rating dropped again this week, to 31%, and Republicans (including the president) are now running scared. Please consider “Panic Over Oil.” Is sending every U.S. citizen $100 for gas a rational solution to any problem? Of course not. While rounding up illegal aliens may or may not be rational, the rational mind is asking, “Why now?” The above is the long answer. The short answer is a single word: “panic.”
2) Is Fischer the only homebuilder hiring illegal aliens? Hmmm. Lots of people were asking that, even though everyone should know the answer. The answer is that until now, the practice was condoned. This is certainly a change. The real question that many enquiring minds asked is….
3) Is this an outlier or some kind of crackdown? We simply cannot answer the question at this time. If the masses are impressed with a “one-night stand,” then all the masses will get is a “one-night stand.” On the other hand, if there is more call for action, this can get a lot uglier. My best guess is that this is not a one-night stand, but we will see.
4) Why Ohio? This one is easy. Ohio, Michigan, and the Rust Belt have been hard-hit with job losses. If Ohio could vote 2004 all over again, we would have a different president. Heck, is anyone 100% sure Ohio really went for Bush in 2004? Anyway, for political reasons, it makes clear sense for the administration to start a crackdown in Ohio. They will do the minimum necessary, and then, if Republicans keep control of Congress, quickly reverse course.
5) Is this Page 15 news headed for Page 1, or is this a local stunt? This is actually quite similar to question No. 3. It all depends on how the masses react. Given that the CPI numbers are a lie, the job numbers are a lie, and the GDP numbers are a lie, the correct prediction is that this is the beginning of a panic, not a one-time event. In that case, look for this to make Page 1 news.
6) If we are starting a serious crackdown on illegal aliens, what does that mean for the economy? This question is simply ass-backward. IF (and it is debatable) we are just beginning a crackdown on illegals, it is because the economy is weakening, rather than because it will “mean something in the future” for the economy. In other words, it is a symptom of a piss-poor economy, rather than something that will “cause” a bad economy. Please bear in mind that strikes, protectionism, and nationalism are hallmarks of deflationary, not inflationary, times.
7) Are we starting a serious crackdown on illegal aliens? This is essentially the same question as No. 5. Please see the answer to No. 5 for my synopsis.
8) The ICE will be as tolerant (and then some) of illegal aliens until the masses demand action. That is what the proposed wall on the border of Mexico is all about. The wall will be useless. If (big IF) the government wants to shut off the flow of illegal aliens, all it has to do is crack down on companies hiring them. Is this the opening salvo? That is the key question, and the wall is a less-than-useless sideshow.
Let’s readdress the very first question, “Why now?” The short answer and the long answer are the same. The simple answer is panic by those in power to stay in power. If elections were not coming up, no one would care.
While everyone else is pondering the addition of the word “yet” added to the FOMC statement this week, Mish enquiring minds are asking, “Why now?”
No matter how one twists and turns, the answer is not pretty.
Mike Shedlock ~ “Mish
May 11, 2006