Not so secure at Homeland Security

The U.S. Secret Service is charged, among other things, with protecting high-ranking federal officials. It should have the ability to detect undocumented workers entering the home of, say, its boss, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

We would assume that the Secret Service’s methods for detecting illegal workers are state of the art.

Or maybe not.

It seems that Secret Service’s screening procedures failed to determine that several employees of a cleaning company hired by Chertoff were in the country illegally. For nearly four years they have entered and cleaned Chertoff’s home.

No U.S. citizens were endangered by Chertoff’s house cleaners, and there was no breach of security of any kind.

But besides being an embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security,  the case points to the heavy-handed and wrong-headed approach that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes against employers of illegal workers.

ICE fined the owner of Chertoff’s cleaning service $22,880 — a fine the owner says could put him out of business — for failing to properly screen his employees to determine whether they are in the country illegally.

Company owner James D. Reid admits to some mistakes, but he quite correctly wonders how a business is supposed to tell real identification from fake. The fakes are pretty good. They apparently were good enough to fool not just Reid, but also the U.S. Secret Service.

We suggest ICE rethink its fine against Reid and others who may be in a similar situation.

How can ICE expect small businesses to do what not even the Secret Service can do?


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