Immigration Agency Say it Will Put OSHA Ruses on Ice

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE) says it is freezing any future plans to impersonate OSHA officials or any other agency officials in its efforts to lure undocumented aliens, according to a letter sent to the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

"Effective immediately, the use of ruses involving health and safety programs administered by a private entity or a federal, state or local government agency for the purpose of immigration worksite enforcement will be discontinued by ICE," agency Director Marcy Forman wrote in a March 17 letter to AIHA.

AIHA Director of Government Affairs Aaron Trippler who previously had sent a letter to ICE expressing AIHA's disgust with the controversial July 2005 sting in which ICE staged a phony OSHA meeting to nab several dozen immigrant workers at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina said AIHA is pleased that ICE has "listened to reason."

"We are not against [ICE] fulfilling their mission, but using OSHA personnel to conduct 'sting' operations was not the way to go," Trippler said.

AIHA has not been the only safety stakeholder to speak out against ICE's OSHA ruse. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and OSHA's new assistant secretary of labor, Edwin Foulke, both have voiced their opposition to ICE's tactics. There had even been some talk on Capitol Hill of holding hearings on the subject, according to Trippler.

ICE's new position on the OSHA ruse is not quite an about-face, but it has changed slightly since Occupationalhazards.com interviewed ICE spokesperson Dean Boyd on Feb. 27. (See "ICE: OSHA Ruse was a Mistake.")

While Boyd admitted staging a phony OSHA meeting was a mistake, at the time he added that ICE would not rule out similar ruses in the future if the circumstances warranted such tactics.

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