BY: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

In the second part of my summary of AILA’s Worksite Enforcement Conference in Utah, I will be discussing the comments of Alberto Ruisanchez, Deputy Special Counsel of the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

It is always enlightening when government speakers talk to immigration lawyers and answer their questions (but not all questions). One of the things we learned was approximately how many investigations that IER has conducted pursuant to the “Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative.” According to Mr. Ruisanchez, they have been between 100 and 9999 such investigations. Now obviously that is a large range but it shows at least 100 such investigations have taken place in the last two and one-half years.

A second revelation from Mr. Ruisanchez was that IER has numerous relationships with state and local government agencies. We already knew IER has MOUs with the USCIS, where they receive referrals from the Monitoring and Compliance Branch (M&C), Department of State/ Consular Affairs, and Department of Labor. With relationships involving state and local governments, IER has more sources of referrals.

Concerning questions posed by employers to screen out applicants, such as for ITAR purposes, Mr. Ruisanchez stated IER was opposed to such questions. However, when asked if employers can ask such questions, Mr. Ruisanchez stated IER “generally discourages” such screening questions because they could lead to charges of national origin discrimination. If employers use screening questions, Mr. Ruisanchez stated one should follow these points:
  1. All questions should be in writing; and
  2. Train your employees on non-discriminatory screenings.
For answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read our new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook (2d ed.), co-authored by Greg Siskind, which is available at