DHS chief directs immigration authorities to halt office raids and shift their focus to ‘unscrupulous’ employers


Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday directed U.S. immigration authorities to cease mass worksite arrests of undocumented immigrants.

He additionally stated that enforcement efforts ought to deal with holding “unscrupulous” employers accountable. 

In a memo to immigration company officers, Mayorkas outlined new enforcement priorities that goal to focus on employers that exploit unauthorized immigrants. Such employers usually pay substandard wages, topic immigrants to unsafe working circumstances and facilitate human trafficking and baby exploitation, he stated. 

He instructed immigration company officers to develop insurance policies throughout the subsequent 60 days that perform the change in enforcement priorities and ship “extra extreme” penalties to exploitative employers.

“The deployment of mass worksite operations, typically ensuing within the simultaneous arrest of a whole lot of staff, was not centered on essentially the most pernicious side of our nation’s unauthorized employment problem: exploitative employers,” Mayorkas wrote in a memo to a number of immigration company officers. 

Tuesday’s motion is a part of the Biden administration’s efforts to slim the scope of who could be arrested and detained by U.S. immigration officers. Final month, for instance, the administration introduced that immigration authorities would now not deport individuals solely as a result of they’re undocumented. 

There are greater than 7 million undocumented immigrants working within the U.S., in keeping with a report launched by the Middle for American Progress in December 2020. 

Undocumented immigrants make up 13% of all development staff and roughly 8.4% of all staff within the lodging and meals companies business, the report stated. In addition they account for 10% of the executive and help and waste administration industries, and 25% of the employees in farming, fishing and forestry occupations.

Mayorkas’ announcement alerts a departure from former President Donald Trump’s strategy to office immigration raids. In 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested practically 700 undocumented staff at meals processing vegetation in Mississippi. It was the most important single-state immigration enforcement operation in U.S. historical past. 

Along with ending worksite raids, Mayorkas outlined efforts to guard unauthorized immigrants who witness or are victims of labor exploitation and abuse. 

He directed immigration company officers to chorus from inserting such immigrants in deportation proceedings and to think about granting them momentary authorized standing. Mayorkas stated such actions would encourage unauthorized immigrants to cooperate with federal regulation enforcement. 

Mayorkas additionally instructed immigration company officers to make sure that E-Confirm, an internet authorities program that permits employers to test the immigration standing of potential staff, will not be used to retaliate in opposition to staff who report illegally low wages or unsafe working circumstances.

By focusing on employers as a substitute of unauthorized staff, Mayorkas stated the U.S. may set up a fairer labor market and profit companies that compete with employers that exploit unauthorized immigrants.

“We will most successfully shield the American labor market, the circumstances of the American worksite, and the dignity of the person by focusing our worksite enforcement efforts on unscrupulous employers,” Mayorkas wrote within the memo. “That is how we are going to proceed.”

Some immigration advocates welcomed the coverage replace.

The Nationwide Immigration Legislation Middle stated in an announcement that Mayorkas’ announcement “alerts pivotal modifications forward that may make workplaces throughout the nation safer and extra equitable for all staff and at last places an finish to deeply dangerous worksite raids.”

“This transfer can even guarantee these immigrants working in faculties, factories, meatpacking vegetation, hospitals, development websites, and different important industries can do their jobs safely and converse out in opposition to unjust remedy with out fearing employer intimidation, arrest, or deportation,” the group stated within the assertion.

Nonetheless, Mayorkas’ announcement is more likely to set off backlash from congressional Republicans, who view the Biden administration’s limits on immigration arrests as an element that has pushed the 20-year-high surge in migrant encounters on the U.S.-Mexico border.

To deal with the surge, the administration has continued to make use of Title 42, a Trump-era public well being coverage that deports migrants with out giving them the possibility to use for asylum. Unaccompanied kids are exempt.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention determined in August that Title 42 would stay in place till it determines that there isn’t any longer a hazard of Covid-19 being introduced throughout the border into the U.S.

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