ICE Ramps Up Workplace Enforcement

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With unemployment in the U.S. at historic low rates and many American workers avoiding low-skill jobs, U.S. employers need a workable immigration system. Unfortunately, that would take real work and cooperation between Congress and the Administration – something neither seems willing to do.

So far in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which began October 1, 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has started 6,093 workplace investigations and has made 984 administrative arrests. See ICE delivers more than 5,200 I-9 audit notices to businesses across the US in 2-phase nationwide operation. By contrast, in FY 2017, the number of I-9 audits issued was 1,716, and 172 administrative arrests were made. The number of arrests made solely on the accusation of being in the country illegally, rather than having committed a crime, is already five times higher than it was in 2017, with two months still left in the fiscal year.

The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy targets low-hanging fruit and socioeconomically damages low-wage workers and their families. Most I-9 audits have been issued to staffing agencies and restaurants, which employ many such workers who support profitable industries.

Attorneys from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) question the need for an increase in I-9 audits and whether they take resources away from going after criminals and gangs. The efforts also divert resources needed to reunite families separated at the border over the past few months. The efforts serve only to instill fear among undocumented immigrants and U.S. employers.

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