Fresno, California – In a recent speech, Datatech has learned the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan has ordered his department to increase work-site enforcement by up to “four or five times” from the current level, seeking to put a dent in illegal immigrants in the workplace.
Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington D.C. on October 17, Homan made this statement when asked about whether we would see a resumption of routine work-site enforcement, “Yes…unless you remove the magnets, as long as they come here and think they can have US citizenship, and not be removed they’re going to keep coming. If they think they can come here and get a job, they’ll keep coming. So, we are stepping up work-site enforcement. I actually recently looked at how much time, what percentage of time is being spent by Homeland Security investigations and work-site enforcement, I just gave the instruction, we want to increase that by four to five times than what they’re currently doing. So we’re taking work-site enforcement very serious this year.” Follow this link to Homan’s comments, his remarks on this topic start at one hour and 25 minutes in.
So what does that mean for Ag employers? The Farm Employers Labor Service’s Bryan Little commented on this saying, “Homan indicated ICE will step up prosecution of employers who knowingly hire employees not eligible to work in the U.S., and will increase efforts to deport unauthorized workers caught in their work-site enforcement efforts.”
According to Little, “Substantially increased work-site enforcement could pose significant problems for agricultural employers and related businesses like packing and processing. The industry has acknowledged for years there is no domestically-available workforce for agricultural employers and many of the foreign-born workers employed by the industry employ fraudulent-but-authentic-appearing documentation to complete the I-9 process.”
Little says that work-site enforcement action can result in termination for workers not legally present and deportation, also significant penalties for employers.
Asplundh Tree Company, a family company that maintains foliage around utility lines was recently fined $80 million dollars by ICE for knowingly hiring ineligible workers.
FELS recommends that Ag employers maintain a well trained Human Resources staff who are current on all the latest requirements for handling work-site hiring, interviewing and paperwork alike.