With tougher immigration rules on the front burner in Washington, nearly every employer should be prepared for a visit from ICE agents sooner or later, warns an immigration lawyer who defends employers.
With President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” policy increasing scrutiny of employer-sponsored work visas like the H-1B, “”I do believe we’ll see increased enforcement with respect to audits and site visits,” says Montserrat Miller, a partner at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Washington, D.C. who specializes in helping employers with immigration issues.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents aren’t just targeting packinghouses and other businesses with a history of hiring undocumented workers, Miller says. And they’re no longer just looking for “criminal aliens” and gang members — common targets of ICE workplace enforcement operations under previous administrations.
Any business with workers who have “H” or “L visas — commonly issued to let foreign citizens work in the U.S. for a sponsoring employer —
should be prepared for a sudden visit by ICE agents looking to see that all the paperwork is in order, Miller says.”Everybody has the potential to be detained if they’re not authorized to be in the United States,” she says.
Miller says it’s key to be prepared for these visits.First, she says, make sure people on the front lines, such as receptionists, know what to do when an agent arrives. They also should know what documentation ICE agents are required to present when they arrive and whom to summon for help, including HR leaders and legal counsel.Employers also should determine before any site visit where agents may and may not go to inspect companyrecords, Miller says.
Employees with work visas should be familiar with details provided on their visa applications “so they don’t accidentally say something[to agents] that raises questions” during a site visit, Miller says.
The bottom line:”You need to have a plan in place.”