Bacon: compromise needed to prevent events like O'Neill immigration raid

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer with one of 133 people arrested Wednesday (Photo courtesy ICE)
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August 10, 2018 - 3:44pm

A Nebraska congressman on the Homeland Security Committee says compromise is needed to prevent incidents like the one this week in O’Neill involving businesses and illegal immigrants.


Congressman Don Bacon, who represents the Omaha-area Second District, commented after Wednesday’s immigration raids in O’Neill and other Nebraska communities. The action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement also included arresting more than a dozen people charged with conspiracy to transport, employ, conceal and harbor illegal immigrants.

Bacon calls the situation a tragedy, and says it goes beyond the workers, who he says were being exploited. “I talk to businesses out there who only hire legal folks, and they’re at a disadvantage when their competitors are hiring folks and paying them under the table at less than the going rate. That’s not fair to those businesses who are trying to do it right,” he says.

“I know many folks who came here legally and they spent over 10 years trying to come here, and they don’t feel good about it when what they did (was) right and it took them so long, and other people are doing it illegally and they’re short-circuiting that system,” he added.

Bacon supported legislation including a provision that would have required employers to use the e-verify system to check workers’ legal status. He says that would deter illegal hiring, because employers would know there would be a paper trail if they knowingly hired people who were ineligible to work in this country.  

But Bacon says the legislation was scuttled by opposition from the left and the right. “Unfortunately we could not get a compromise. Folks on the left didn’t want to vote for it because there was some construction of the wall involved. And we lost some votes on the right because they thought it was being too generous with DACA and our H-2 visas,” he says.

Bacon says Congress needs to keep trying to fix the immigration system and address the worker shortage affecting Nebraska.

 

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