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ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan speaks at a press conference. (Image: Matthew T. Nichols for the Department of Justice)
ICE preparing massive enforcement increase targeting businesses that employ illegal immigrants
The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday that the agency is preparing a massive crackdown on businesses that employ illegal immigrants. Speaking to an group at the Heritage Foundation, Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, promised a “four or five-times” increase in the agency’s enforcement actions against business that illegally employ undocumented aliens. Said Homan, “We’re taking work site enforcement very hard this year… We’ve already increased the number of inspections and work site operations. You’re going to see that significantly increase the next fiscal year.”
“We’re taking work site enforcement very hard this year… We’ve already increased the number of inspections and work site operations. You’re going to see that significantly increase the next fiscal year.” – Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
During a question and answer period following his remarks, Homan explained that the promise of high-paying jobs is a leading cause of illegal immigration in America, saying, “As long as they can come here and get a job, they’re going to try and come.” Describing employers who flout U.S. hiring laws as “magnets” for illegal immigration, Homan said, “Unless you remove the magnets, as long as they think they can come here and get U.S. citizenship and not get removed, they’re going to keep coming.”
Homan concluded. “As long as they can come here and get a job, they’re going to try and come. So we are stepping up worksite enforcement.”
Stepping up worksite enforcement: removing the “magnet”
According to Homan, ICE will increase its efforts to prosecute employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrant workers, while simultaneously deporting their undocumented employees. “We’ll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien,” he said, “but we’re always going to arrest a person who is here illegally.” According to Homan, the agency’s plans to increase its current workplace enforcement efforts by four to five times its current levels. Homan said, “We’re going to do it a little differently than we’ve done it. We’re going to prosecute the employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and we’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers.”
The Trump administration has initiated several legal actions against businesses that either knowingly hired illegal immigrants, or used guest worker visas to discriminate against native-born job applicants. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division recently filed a lawsuit against a Colorado business for allegedly hiring foreign workers over qualified U.S. citizens. The lawsuit was the first of its kind filed under the Department’s “Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative“, a program initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions designed to investigate employment discrimination based on U.S. citizenship.
In late September, Asplundh Tree Expert Co. plead guilty to knowingly employing illegal immigrant workers and was fined a staggering $95 million, the largest fine ever applied in an immigration case.
Currently, U.S. businesses are encouraged, but not required, to verify a person’s employment eligibility using the “E-Verify” system. E-Verify was created in 1997 to prevent illegal immigrants and other people who have violated immigration laws from obtaining employment illegally in the United States. E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
Currently only federal agencies are required to use the system, however, several states have passed laws requiring their local businesses to use the free system. According to the DHS website, more than 600,000 employers now use E-Verify. A bill sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) would make using E-Verify mandatory for all U.S. businesses.
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Keywords: businesses, enforcement efforts, ICE, illegal immigrants, massive crackdown, Thomas Homan.