Back to Top skip to main content
Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm - United States
Aug 23, 2019

Worksite Employment Raids Point to the Employer Need to Take Preemptive Action

David Spaulding

On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) conducted one of its largest immigration raids, arresting 680 foreign nationals who appeared to the government to be workers without authorization. By the end of the week, ICE agents had arrested more than 850 people in Mississippi alone.

The raids were part of a yearlong investigation and alleges that the Mississippi chicken processing plants they raided on August 7th knowingly hired unauthorized workers.  Indeed, the search warrants were predicated upon evidence that company officials had direct knowledge that their workforce included large numbers of undocumented foreign nationals.  However, before the sun came up on Thursday, August 8, 2019, half of those arrested were released from custody and none of the employers’ officials have been indicted so far.  Aside from immigration charges, the only immediate outcome of the operation has been an employer reaction to terminate the employment of foreign nationals whose work authorization they believed to be in question.

On its surface, the raids seem most significant in their creating fear within immigrant communities and concern among employers.  One should be cautious in analysis here though.  Arrests, search warrants, releases, and indictments are distinct parts of the overall immigration enforcement regime.  That arrestees are released after an immigration raid does not mean that serious legal proceedings were terminated and a lack of indictments following the execution of search warrants should not be interpreted as an indication that no charges are forthcoming. 

ICE is pursuing a three-prong worksite enforcement strategy: civil law compliance actions, civil and criminal enforcement actions, and outreach to employers, with the overall goal of discouraging employers from employing unauthorized workers. As we have discussed before, ICE has dramatically increased its Form I-9 Audits in the last two years and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has significantly increased its own immigration inspections and investigations.  The President has said that this is a “very good deterrent” in answer to questions about stepped-up worksite enforcement operations.

The implications of all of this are significant and Green & Spiegel is watching these matters closely.  For employers, it is important to remember that ICE has long pursued executives whose companies hire unauthorized workers but we are now seeing an increased focus on the workers themselves and that appears to be part of the strategy.  Also part of the strategy is to combine formal criminal investigation techniques with administrative immigration enforcement, seizing evidence and people in a single operation.  This should particularly concern supervisors and managers whose direct contact with potentially unauthorized workers makes them a target for subsequent prosecution.

Green & Spiegel has significant experience in these areas and our Compliance and Regulatory Practice is specifically oriented to help businesses navigate these waters.  If it is time to take stock of your company’s policies and procedures, contact us and let’s see what we can do to give your team peace of mind.

Related Team

D Spaulding Team Page

David Spaulding

(215) 395-8959

(215) 395-8959

email David

Philadelphia (US Headquarters)

Full Biography

David Spaulding

Recent Blogs

Jan 20, 2021

Biden-Harris to Propose Immediate Residency to DACA Recipients and Eight Year Path to Residency for Other Immigrants

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are poised to present a comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform package to Congress for passage on the first day of their historic Administration. The comprehensive plan to grant status to over ten million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States will be the most anticipated legislative reform package in years. Learn more in this blog.

Jan 15, 2021

Trump Tries Again to Raise Prevailing Wages, Success not Expected

In the last full week of the Trump administration, the DOL has once more issued a prevailing wage rule that lifts wages for H-1B, E-3, and H-1B1 nonimmigrant cases and for the PERM labor certification program. The new final rule, which was published on January 14, and goes into effect sixty days later, contains significant prevailing wage increases for all wage levels, though the new minimums are not as high as initially sought by DOL. The rule also provides a multi-year transition period which is intended to give employers time to meet the wage increases and makes certain accommodations for H-1B workers who are pursuing employment-based permanent residence. Initial wage increases are set to begin on July 1, 2021.

Jan 08, 2021

Final Rule Signals Major Change in H-1B Selection Process

In November 2020, we reported on the Trump administration’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making, announcing a major change in the process for filing cap subject H-1B petitions. The new proposed selection process prioritizes registrations based on wage level, thus giving priority to those registrations by employers who are paying the highest prevailing wages. Following the mandatory notice and comment period, the government has announced that the final rule will go into effect, without modification, on Friday, January 8, 2021.