Homeland Security Outlines New Rules Tightening Enforcement Of Immigration Law


It is no secret that immigration is a hot topic.  It incites crowds and heated rhetoric.  With the changes that are being made in prioritizing deportations, employers need to be prepared for impact that may affect their workforce.  The announcement Tuesday February 20th was sent out as a Guidance by the Department of Homeland Security.  The Guidance that provides this information also calls for hiring an additional 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers.  Additionally, ICE is also required to report on a weekly basis their activities to carry out the Guidance requirements.  It states that individuals who have used false identification cards/papers to secure employment are part of the group that can now be deported for criminal activity.  The announcement also stated that more “aggressive immigration enforcement” is being adopted.  This is different than the previous priorities, and likely different than what was thought to be the definition of a crime. 

There are at least two significant concerns that employers need to consider and determine if action or a contingency plan would be beneficial.  The first is worker unrest.  Some portion of the workforce is likely to be edgy, apprehensive, and distressed.  Any employer with a substantial immigrant population needs to think about how to address these employee feelings.  The disturbance may be caused by their own undocumented status, or by the fact that they have family members who are without the legal right to be in the US.  This could cause them considerable unrest, never knowing if when they get off shift and get home, whether their family member will be there.

The second concern has the potential to be even more disturbing.  What if a sizable portion of the workforce is undocumented resulting in the possibility that they could be picked up by ICE and designated for deportation?  Employers could find themselves hampered in production, dealing with a loss of intellectual capability in key positions, or immediately in need of many new employees in an environment where labor is not easily acquired.

Employers need to talk with their managers and consider how this change may affect them.  Consider doing contingency planning for a situation that may suddenly reduce the workforce.  Answering such questions as:

  1. Do we think we might have a problem?
  2. What resources (temp agencies, etc.) do we have or might we need if a substantial number of our employees are no longer able to work here?
  3. Should we be communicating with our workforce about this enforcement change in order to alert them?
  4. If we lose employees, how do we want to communicate with the remaining staff?

One note of caution, it is not permissible to re-verify the ability to work in the US unless the documents used for the initial verification have expired.

It may be that other questions about actions to be taken will surface as you think about the implications of this revised government process.

Information provided by HR Answers, Inc.