For Maricopa County, Arizona, worksite raids are part of a painful past. Sheriff Joe Arpaio abused his law enforcement powers and instilled fear in the community, including business owners when acting as an immigration enforcement agent just for electoral purposes until judges ordered him to stop this practice.
Voters finally got tired of his antics and the cost to taxpayers, voting him out of the office of Sheriff of Maricopa County on November 2016.
Now, the possibility of worksite raids are on the minds of many business owners and workers across the nation since Trump has announced a crackdown on undocumented immigrants during this summer of 2019.
Immigrant rights organizations have been very successful educating the immigrant population with Know Your Rights materials (KYR) and training session which, put in practice, are very effective in reducing the detentions being made by neighborhood raids.
Know Your Rights Summarized
1.-Do not open the door to an immigration agent unless they have a warrant issued by a judge, must be a city, state or federal court judge, not an immigration judge.
3.-Request to seek counsel with a lawyer
4.-Do not sign any document your lawyer has not approved
This is great, but we must recognize that there are different dynamics on a potential workplace raid.
How To Prepare for a Workplace Raid
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has some authority in workplaces since they can investigate a business for violations of employment law. ICE is also tasked by the Department of Homeland Security (HHS) with employer compliance with the form I-9, also called Employment Eligibility Verification.
In fact, DHS has a division called Worksite Enforcement Investigations which audits compliance with I-9.
This may sound scary but the truth is that government agencies are looking to punish undocumented immigrants and not employers: the rate of employer prosecution is minimal.
Last year, only 11 prosecutions of employers of violating immigration law took place in the country.
However, as a good business practice, there are measures the employers must take to ensure compliance and the safety of their employees, in addition to following legal hiring practices:
1.-Contact an immigration lawyer ahead of time and have him or her contact in your emergency numbers.
2.-Talk and train about this issue. As part of a good training program, no issue should be avoided and this is an important topic you should not miss. The training must include the importance of remaining silent and not to run at the presence of immigration authorities.
3.-Give cards to your employees asserting their right to remain silent, not giving consent for searches and seek counsel, such as “I can’t give you permission to enter. You must speak to my employer first.”
4.-Educate your employees about public and private spaces. A business such a grocery store can be a combination of public and private spaces. Tell your employers that immigration enforcement authorities can question persons in the public spaces without a warrant, such as selling area, but can be stopped to go into the business office area unless they have a search warrant issued by a judge.
5.-You are not required to give ICE any information about your employees, past or present. Remain silent and ask for your lawyer.
6.-Record and document. Immigration advocates suggest that documented and citizen employees should document and record with photos and/or video the raid in case ICE violates the rights of any of them.
7.-Employers and employees should ask ICE where they are taking any detainee, to help family members locate their loved ones.
Keep in mind, however, that these recommendations are general guidelines and should not be taken as legal advice. Consult us for a detailed plan of action.
Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta is both an immigration and business attorney and can guide you assessing the legal needs of your business and working with a plan for you. Call us to schedule an appointment (480) 324-6378