In the run up to the midterm elections, there have been plenty of political issues highlighted in the media, but one in particular stands out: the Abolish I.C.E. movement. There have been numerous sit ins and protests around the nation dedicated to exposing how bad I.C.E., or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is for American and the American Worker. But is this true? How do the actions I.C.E. workers are taking affect auto repair and the average auto repair worker?
One thing is certain: there is reason for the furor about I.C.E. President Trump has increased the size and scope of powers of this agency. In the first month of his presidency Trump signed an executive order calling for 10,000 more I.C.E. hires, and his administration has mandated a zero tolerance policy towards illegal immigration. As a result, during the first 8 months of his presidency, I.C.E. arrests increased by 42 percent.
What’s more, there are plans to expand I.C.E. even more with the Trump Administration’s budget for 2019 including a $967 million increase for the agency. If accomplished, this will bring the total projected budget to $8.8 billion.
We’ve talked before about how the crackdown on illegal immigration affects the auto repair industry specifically. As far as workers are concerned, fewer illegal immigrants will increase wages in the long run. This is because the pool of workers will contract and employers will have to pay higher wages to attract labor. What’s more, they will not be able to bypass U.S. labor laws and will have to abide by regulation or risk being reported, investigated, and fined. Eliminating illegal workers also stops employers from treating their workers by two sets of rules. This will reduce bad feeling and strife in auto shops and make the work environment less tense.
But I.C.E. has additional targets; it doesn’t only target illegal immigration. I.C.E.’s efforts are currently stemming human trafficking and the flow of drugs like fentanyl over the Mexican border. Fentanyl is a huge contributor to our national opioid crisis. Last week while in Cleveland, Ohio, Attorney General Sessions announced that two Chinese men were being indicted with “operating a conspiracy that manufactured and shipped deadly fentanyl analogues and 250 other drugs to at least 25 countries and 37 states.” I.C.E. and Homeland Security had worked together on an investigation to identify drug traffickers after two people in Akron, Ohio fatally overdosed.
“Fentanyl and its analogues are the number one killer drug in America today, and most of them come from China,” said Attorney General Sessions. “By cutting off fentanyl and its analogues at the source, we can save American lives.”
The opioid crisis has had its worst impact on working class and white Americans in rural areas and small towns. It has directly and negatively affected the auto repair industry for this reason. By halting the smuggling of opioid drugs from the country, workers are less likely to use drugs, develop life ruining addictions, or lose friends and family to drug abuse and the drug trade. Auto shop owners will also struggle less with finding good employees if fewer workers are abusing drugs.
For illegal aliens, I.C.E. poses a threat because I.C.E. wants them to return to their countries of origin. For American workers, though, I.C.E.’s work increases their safety and security as both citizens and workers. When politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare I.C.E. workers to the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, they are revealing who they want to protect and help, and that’s not the average American worker or the auto repair industry.