Those of you who have been following this blog know that immigration enforcement is on the rise and any hope of a comprehensive solution to the crisis that would benefit the undocumented is dormant until after the 2008 election.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is the agency under the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for enforcing immigration laws. Regardless of what the immigration laws actually are, the culture and climate in which they exist often determines the carrying out of the laws.
For instance, as I reported a few weeks ago, petitions for Religious Workers (immigrant and nonimmigrant) are being heavily scrutinized and I would venture to say that the USCIS adjudicates such cases with an “eye to deny” them. In other words, rather than to look for how the beneficiary is entitled to the benefit sought, the agency looks for reasons to deny the benefit. Some may be surprised to learn that with most other applications or petitions, in my experience, this is not the case. In fact, the USCIS sometimes (though not always) gives the customer the benefit of the doubt and approves questionable applications or petitions.
The culture and climate regarding the enforcement of immigration laws is becoming more severe. As a very vocal minority of Americans kick and scream and demand that the undocumented be deported, the government is stepping up enforcement against employers and workers.
Most of these undocumented workers have no criminal records, many have taxes withheld from their paychecks, some have children who are American citizens, some entered the US when they were children, others have purchased homes and planted seeds in this country. However, because not enough of us are demanding comprehensive solutions from our congresspeople, or at least not as effectively or aggressively as those who oppose CIR, the culture and climate has become one of detain, deny and deport.
Those who employ undocumented aliens should be aware of the imminent stepped-up enforcement and what they should do. Areas that will be most vulnerable will be agriculture, food preparation, landscaping, construction, and hospitality (hotels and restaurants). I will post further on possible scenarios and how they should be handled in the coming weeks.
If you feel that your company could be the target of an investigation or raid, it is advisable to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer sooner rather than later to discuss what could be done to minimize the damage.