The Biden administration ordered ICE to halt its mass raids at worksites as it retools its immigration strategy, The Washington Post reports.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered a review of enforcement policies and instructed immigration officials to propose ways to protect workers who reported exploitative employers from deportation.
Mass ICE raids have primarily targeted industries that employ large numbers of undocumented immigrations, like meatpacking.
“The deployment of mass worksite operations, sometimes resulting in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, was not focused on the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge: exploitative employers,” Mayorkas said in the memo.
“These highly visible operations misallocated enforcement resources while chilling, and even serving as a tool of retaliation for, worker cooperation in workplace standards investigations,” he added.
DHS to focus on employers:
The memo says that the department will shift its focus to employers in an effort to reduce the demand for illegal labor.
The department is planning tougher punishments for companies and employers who exploit undocumented labor.
The department also wants to make it easier for undocumented workers to report their bosses.
The memo instructs DHS officials to determine ways that E-Verify, which requires employers to check new hires’ legal status, to can be improved to “ensure it is not misused as a tool of exploitative labor practices” by employers who want to intimidate workers.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” the memo states. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
Top Democrat backs:
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez praised the new enforcement guidelines.
“While many workers across the country stayed home per public health protocols, undocumented workers put their lives and the well-being of their loved ones at risk to keep our country and economy afloat,” he said in a statement.
Menendez is working with a group of senators on a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.
“These actions by the administration are an important step in safeguarding the safety and well-being of undocumented workers,” he said.