Immigration Enforcement: Preparations for Employers

February 14, 2017

With the transition to the Trump administration, the future of immigration enforcement actions is a top issue for employers of non-citizen workers.  A good deal of attention has been focused on enforcement actions directed at blue-collar labor, but there are indications that highly skilled non-citizens may also be impacted by forthcoming policy changes.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is the investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") charged with enforcing immigration and customs laws.  One method of enforcement at ICE's disposal is the worksite audit, sometimes known as an "ICE raid."  From 2013 to the end of the Obama presidency, worksite immigration enforcement activity dropped precipitously in favor of offsite review of employers' documentation through a Notice of Inspection ("NOI") process.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump executed an Executive order titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States."  Media reports focused on this order's directives to begin construction of a wall on the United States-Mexico border and to withhold federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities."  Of particular note for employers, however, the order also commands increased detention and deportation efforts, with a stated priority of deporting unauthorized immigrants convicted of or charged with "any" criminal offense, or who have "committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense."  The broad language of this order appears to include immigration offenses such as unlawful entry as well as minor offenses like traffic violations.

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