'Silent Raids' Squeeze Illegal Workers; Critics Fault Pressure for Fostering Underground Economy - Conservatives would rather deport the immigrants.
Jaime Lopez used to earn $14 an hour, plus benefits, as a maintenance man for an office building outside Minneapolis. Then his employer was audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mr. Lopez and 1,200 other illegal immigrants in the Twin Cities lost their jobs in October 2009.
Today, the 30-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico says he is struggling to bring home $500 a month from odd jobs, often working for less than the state's hourly minimum wage.
Critics of U.S. immigration policies on the left and right take issue with such audits by the Obama administration, also known as silent raids. They say that, as a practical matter, the raids shift illegal immigrants with relatively well-paying jobs into the underground economy. Conservatives would rather deport the immigrants; others call for a path to U.S. citizenship.