Question: I read the government is considering using National Guard troops to perform immigration sweeps. I run a small business on the Peninsula and I am concerned about this. What should I do if the government comes to my business?
Answer: While the White House has denied that it is seriously considering utilizing National Guard troops for immigration raids, it is clear that the Trump administration has made more stringent immigration enforcement one of its top priorities. The National Immigration Law Center provides information and basic guidelines employers should keep in mind in the event you receive an unexpected visit from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ideally, employers should have an immigration compliance plan in place, and all managers and Human Resources staff should be trained to properly respond to a visit from ICE. However, if ICE agents visit your business before you have had a chance to take such steps, stay calm and politely ask the agents for information to verify that they are ICE agents. Ask for business cards, take down names, badge numbers, and contact information.
Next, find out why they are visiting your business. To conduct a worksite “raid,” ICE agents must have a search warrant signed by a judge, and you have a right to see the search warrant. The search warrant should identify the location to be searched, the agency or officers conducting the search, and the specific items or individuals to be seized. It is important to read and understand the scope of the warrant so that you properly comply and do not inadvertently grant ICE access to areas or individuals not covered by the warrant.
During a raid, do not obstruct ICE agents from executing a valid search warrant, but do accompany the agents on their search and take notes. While you and your managers want to remain cordial and cooperative, neither you nor your employees are required to answer any questions during the raid. The National Immigration Law Center also advises that you should not allow ICE agents to remove documents from your property without first making copies, and you should not allow ICE agents to seize documents that are outside the scope of the search warrant. If the ICE agents seize items or computer files, make a list of what is being seized. You do not have to sign anything presented by the ICE agents, and you should not authorize your employees to sign any documents without first being advised to do so by an attorney.
If ICE is conducting an I-9 audit, you are entitled to three days’ advance notice to provide the I-9’s and other records requested. Make sure your I-9 forms are in one location so you can provide them to ICE agents for inspection. You are not required to produce copies of the I-9’s or the documents your employees presented to establish identity and the right to work in the United States unless the ICE agents have a valid subpoena for these documents.
To minimize potential disruption and risk to your business relating to an ICE enforcement action, consult with an experienced attorney regarding appropriate immigration compliance plans and employee training for your business. Your goal is to cooperate with federal authorities consistent with applicable law without compromising the protections afforded by law to both your business and your employees.