Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Monday, February 27, 2006


Immigration To Impersonate OSHA Only If National Security Threatened

OK, so if Osama Bin Laden or some of his buddies sneak onto a military base as undocumented construction workers, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) thinks they might be likely to take a break from plotting the downfall of Western Civilization to attend OSHA training, they might then -- and only then -- again use the tactic of imitating OSHA personnel to nab the terrorists.

Or at least that's what ICE officials are telling Occupational Hazards.

ICE officials admit that the North Carolina raid last Summer, where they invited undocumented workers to a phony OSHA training, was a mistake because they didn't coordinate with OSHA or get the agency's permission.
What recent media reports have focused on is ICE's position that it will not completely rule out such ruses in the future.

"As a general rule we don't anticipate using such a ruse again with any regularity," [ICE spokesperson Dean]Boyd said. "However – and this is unfortunate – were there some sort of national security threat or extreme situation – I can't hypothesize what may occur in the future – it might be something we would contemplate."

As a hypothetical example of such "a grave criminal matter or national security matter," Boyd said ICE might consider using the OSHA ruse "were there a terrorist working in a facility and the only way to lure that person to a location where he or she could be safely arrested were such a ruse."

"But, obviously, we would not go forward without the prior coordination and approval of OSHA and the Department of Labor," Boyd said.
After all, Boyd argued,
Ruses in general are a "tried and true law enforcement technique."

"Any given day there are police departments and law enforcement agencies throughout the country posing as teenagers on the Internet to locate and arrest pedophiles," Boyd said. "That's a ruse."
Uh, yeah, Dean, nice try. But there's a slight difference. Impersonating a pedophile nabs pedophiles. And if pedophiles suspect that the "teenagers" they're making contact with aren't real teenagers -- maybe they'll stop soliciting on the web, also arguably not a bad thing.

Impersonating OSHA officials, on the other hand, may nab illegal immigrants, but if word gets out that OSHA officials may actually be the migra in disguise, immigrants will be discouraged from looking for legitimate safety training or filing complaints with the agency -- which may lead to their injury or death -- a bad thing.

In any case, all the attention being paid to this issue seems to be paying off. At least now they're promising to ask OSHA's permission.

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