On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP on Monday, June 17, 2019.

From employment documentation to payroll verification, an employer should know exactly what to do in the event of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at your business. You should also have a local attorney on your side who is skilled in immigration law.

ICE this is the federal government agency that enforces immigration laws in the United States. As part of its duties, it can begin deportation proceedings using a multitude of tactics to identify, investigate, and arrest people to possibly be deported. One of those tactics is through a workplace raid.

A workplace raid is when ICE agents show up at a business in order to question workers and detain people it believes are working and living in the U.S. illegally. Such raids may target specific workers as part of ongoing investigations, or they may be used to question all workers present. While ICE is just doing its job, these raids can understandably cause fear and panic for employees and employers, especially where undocumented workers are involved. 

So how can you as the employer be prepared?

In this new era of compliance, immigration issues still remain perplexing and misunderstood. But employers must recognize the significance of being compliant today, thus preparing themselves in the event that immigration authorities visit the workplace unannounced. With a potential for severe consequences, you as the employer would be smart to put immigration compliance at the top of your priority list.

That starts with knowing and exercising your rights. You have the right not to answer any questions and you shouldn’t be asked to sign any documents. ICE will have to present a search warrant to you permitting agents to enter the specified location to search only for items included in the warrant.

Tips for Preparedness

Because you never know when you’ll be inspected, it’s in your best interests to prepare beforehand. Because sudden visits by ICE can disrupt productive work and send panic through the office, have a plan in place to minimize this disruption. 

  • Appoint staff, with backups, to interact with ICE agents upon arrival. Give these names to the reception staff so they know who to call. Any staff member you appoint with this task should be trained to cooperate with ICE without putting the company or employees at risk.
  • Those individuals should take ICE officers to a comfortable location where they won’t interfere with staff or customers. 
  • Make sure they know not to answer any questions or provide any other information to ICE. 
  • Your designated contact person should contact immigration counsel immediately, along with human resources and legal departments.
  • If ICE is there to conduct an I-9 audit, they must supply a subpoena called Notice of Inspection. You as the employer have three business days to provide ICE with Form I-9s and related documentation. As such, always know where your I-9 forms are located and maintained.
  • It’s a good idea to self-audit your I-9 forms periodically, reviewing your intake and completion process for any potential exposure.
  • Pay attention to proper retention of terminated employee forms. Immediately raise any concerns or issues with immigration counsel. 
  • Designate a person proficient in I-9 completion to perform the self-audit.
  • Maintain thorough payroll records of your employees.
  • Make sure all employee documentation is complete, truthful and available.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.