The Department of Homeland Security sent out a memorandum that will put a halt to “mass” Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids of undocumented workers at job sites, but will instead put the focus on employers, the agency announced Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intends to prosecute “employers who exploit the vulnerability of undocumented workers,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the memorandum, adding that the raids negatively impact workers who are susceptible to low wages and unsafe working conditions.
“The deployment of mass worksite operations, sometimes resulting in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, was not focused on the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge: exploitative employers,” the agency said in a statement.
“These highly visible operations misallocated enforcement resources while chilling, and even serving as a tool of retaliation for, worker cooperation in workplace standards investigations,” the agency added.
“Exploitative” employers may further have a negative impact on law-abiding American workers and businesses by paying undocumented workers considerably less, thereby creating an unfair labor market. DHS officials were ordered to stop all “mass worksite operations” and turn their enforcement actions toward “unscrupulous employers,” Mayorkas said.
The agency will put policies into place that are more effective at reducing the demand for illegal workers and increasing consequences for employers who hire undocumented workers. The directive includes a policy review order aimed at making it easier for illegal workers to report their employers’ abusive practices to the federal government.