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Immigration Enforcement and Tips for Employers

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service
March 13, 2017


ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents might take two types of enforcement actions at an employer’s workplace:

  • A “raid” in which the agents already have reasonable cause to believe that persons not eligible to be employed or not lawfully present in the United States are in the workplace. To enter areas of the employer’s premises that are closed to the public and more than 25 miles from the U.S. border, the agents must have (a) the employer’s consent to enter, (b) a search warrant based on reasonable cause that authorizes their entry for a specific purpose, or (c) reasonable cause plus exigent (i.e., emergency) circumstances that would mean the suspect would elude capture or evidence would be lost or destroyed if the agents were to take the time necessary to get a warrant.

  • A Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) audit, which requires the agents to give the employer three days’ notice of the intent to audit.

Here are some pointers for employers:

  • Review your employment eligibility verification practices and procedures to ensure they comply with the law.

  • Ensure your staff consistently implements those practices and procedures, such as by periodically auditing the Forms I-9 they help prepare.Review your recordkeeping policies and practices to ensure Forms I-9 are kept for the longer of three years after employment starts or one year after it ends.

  • Take reasonable steps to resolve doubt arising from credible information you receive about an employee’s identity or employment eligibility.

  • Designate and authorize a management representative to meet and talk with ICE agents when they visit your business.Educate the representative on appropriate procedures, such as when to call you or the company’s attorney.

  • Train employees to refer inquiries from ICE agents to the representative.

  • Train the representative to be polite and assume an attitude of cooperation with ICE agents, but also to ask them for proper identification if they do not offer it first.

  • In the event of a criminal investigation, as evidenced by the issuance of a search warrant authorizing the seizure of computer records or other employment-related documents, review the search warrant to ensure that only those items listed in the warrant are taken, and then inventory what is taken.

  • Call the company’s attorney as soon as possible to seek advice and determine how much you and other employees should cooperate, particularly as to interviews.

FELS Newsletter subscribers are eligible for FELS Group Legal Service program benefits with our program partner firm, Barsamian & Moody.  Please call FELS at 800-753-9073 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a referral.