On Oct. 12, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that ICE will no longer conduct mass worksite raids. These resource-intensive operations have resulted in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers — and they have been used as a tool by exploitative employers to suppress and retaliate against undocumented workers who report labor law violations.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas outlined the new strategy in a worksite enforcement memorandum. ICE will focus its worksite enforcement operations on unscrupulous employers who exploit the vulnerability of undocumented workers. These employers engage in illegal acts ranging from paying substandard wages to imposing unsafe working conditions and facilitating human trafficking.

Moreover, by exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, these employers unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.

To achieve these goals, DHS will adopt policies to facilitate the efforts of the Department of Labor (DOL) and other agencies to enforce wage protections, workplace safety, labor rights, and other labor laws and standards.

This may help DOL, but not as much as additional funding from Congress to cover the cost of expanding its enforcement operations in the industries known to hire large numbers of undocumented immigrants.

Are undocumented immigrant workers safer now?

The National Immigration Law Center believes that ending mass worksite raids will eliminate the fear undocumented workers have of being arrested by ICE during a worksite raid.

The American Immigration Council, agrees. They view the worksite strategy memorandum as an important first step toward lifting the threat of deportation for exploited workers.

But the Biden administration has never permitted ICE to arrest undocumented workers during worksite raids.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com