10 Ways to Prepare for a Visit From Immigration and Customs Enforcement
According to the Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report, there were over 143,000 administrative arrests last year, the highest over the past three years. In addition to these administrative arrests, out of the 226,119 removals conducted in 2017, 36 percent were the direct result of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests. These staggering numbers will continue to rise in 2018 as the current administration looks to ramp up its efforts and beef up ICE’s manpower.
Across the United States, there have been hundreds of inspections and raids performed on businesses. These visits can result in an immediate loss of workforce, abandoned projects, claims on performance bonds, loss of business income and several other direct and indirect costs to companies. Just a few months ago, federal immigration officials raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide and less than a month later, over 77 businesses in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas were targeted and searched by ICE agents.
It's important to note the distinction between an inspection and a raid. When ICE conducts a raid, its agents enter the worksite with a warrant. To initiate an inspection, ICE must supply a subpoena in the form of a Notice of Inspection. An employer that’s been subpoenaed then has at least three business days to provide ICE with Form I-9s and related documentation. During these workplace inspections, also called I-9 audits, ICE agents enter worksites and conduct interviews with employees and managers to determine compliance with immigration laws. If they find violations, they can fine employers. In some cases, criminal charges are filed by the Department of Justice. Under this administration, the employees found to be undocumented through their investigation are subject to arrest and removal.
With inspections and raids happening across the manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality and construction industries, it’s important to ensure your company is prepared for a visit from ICE. Here’s how to prepare for an unexpected visit to your worksite:
- Appoint staff to interact with ICE agents should they arrive, and train them on how to be cooperative without putting workers at risk.
- Make employee(s) responsible for keeping ICE officers in a location where they won’t interact with other employees.
- Select point people to contact your human resources and legal departments as well as outside counsel immediately.
- Encourage your employees not to obstruct ICE activity. They may, however, follow ICE agents around the worksite and record the agents’ actions with their cell phones.
- Let employees know that if ICE agents are exceeding the scope of the warrant (e.g. taking information that isn’t covered), they may question a particular action or note it on the recording.
- Ensure employees know a visit from an ICE agent doesn’t mean they have permission to talk to employees or walk the premises without a proper warrant. Nor are employers required to turn over documents without a subpoena or warrant.
- Remember that while ICE agents may question employees, they can’t require anyone to remain on the premises unless they’re under arrest.
- Establish a protocol for making sure employees’ rights are respected and their health and other personal needs are considered.
- Create company policies and add information to employee handbooks on preparing for ICE visits.
- Back up important electronic data and records off-site.
Since construction companies can never predict if or when they’ll have a visit from ICE, preparation is the best protection. In addition to the steps noted above, make sure you’re having a conversation with your broker to ensure your construction business is adequately covered and prepared. Because the next time you get a knock on your door, it might not be the delivery man.
- Immigration Coverage and Employment Practices Liability
- 2018 Construction Industry Outlook Video
- How to Manage a Bilingual Construction Workforce
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