A hearing on immigration was held Monday in Marshalltown, where hundreds of workers were rounded up or left town when labor officials raided the Swift packing plant in December. Matt Whitaker, U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Iowa, was asked how prosecutors set their priority for the enforcement of immigration laws, and he answered that it’s set by the U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez.
Whitaker said the number-one priority of the U.S. Department of Justice is the prevention of terrorism, two and three are the prosecution of violent criminals and of drug-trafficking organizations. "Enforcement of immigration laws is fourth or lower, but I will tell you as it relates to my office, it is the second most number of defendants we do, right below drug dealers."
Whitaker says more than half his office’s caseload is drug-related, and another 20-percent is illegal immigration. Marcy Foreman is Director of the Office of Investigations at ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She supervises 57 agents, and 156 field offices.
Foreman says the infrastructure is the number-one priority, ensuring that vulnerable sites are not exploited by terrorists or other criminals. She says "egregious violators" are the "next level of threshold," and the agency wants to work with the private sector to ensure there’s a "legitimate workforce." The forum, titled "A National Summit on Immigration," was held on the campus of Marshalltown Community College.