Human Resources

Do Your Employees Know What to Do if ICE Visits?

By Kate McGovern Tornone

There has been much talk of immigration enforcement in the past several months, and employers should be training their employees on what to do should a federal agency show up at their worksite. We cover what companies need to know in an article by BLR® Editor Kate McGovern Tornone.

The federal government recently announced increased enforcement of immigration policies, and that plan could include increased worksite visits. This means receptionists, crew managers, and others who would be the first point of contact—for the need to know what to say—and what not to say—if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows up, according Lori Chesser, a senior shareholder at the Davis Brown Law Firm.

The ramped up enforcement was announced February 21 in two “implementation memos” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among other things, the agency drastically expanded the category of individuals it considers a priority for deportation and announced plans to expand its use of “expedited removal.” It said it will hire an additional 10,000 staff members to carry out the increased activity.

Aside from training front-facing employees, employers also should undertake an I-9 audit and counsel employees who travel for work, said Chesser, who also chairs her firm’s immigration department.

Train Front-Facing Employees

Chesser recommends that employers provide some training to employees who will be the first point of contact if government officials show up. “Most employers aren’t used to this,” Chesser said, but companies need to identify employees who would be the first to encounter law enforcement and decide how it wants those people to respond.

“They need to be trained to not interfere with an investigation, but also to take whatever steps you deem necessary,” Chesser said. This could include refraining from making certain statements to officials, she said, or alerting the employer so it can call counsel.

The same applies to other government initiatives, such as on-site visa audits. H-1B (temporary highly skilled), L1 (intracompany transfer), and even OPT (optional practical training) visas include a potential for site visits aimed at reducing fraud in the visa programs, Chesser noted.

“I think it’s something that’s going to come up for people,” she said, noting that agencies have indicated they would be particularly focused on the agriculture, healthcare, retail, and tech industries.

Tornone discusses I-9s and travel implications in tomorrow’s Advisor.