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Immigration Raids and What They Mean for U.S. Businesses

On Jan. 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” This order lays out the president’s plan for enforcing immigration laws, including, among other initiatives, increasing and expediting the deportation of removable aliens from the United States.  Specifically, the order prioritizes for immediate deportation foreign nationals who have committed crimes, as well as those who are suspected of committing crimes and those whom law enforcement deems are a threat to national security. This executive order broadens the class of individuals considered to be a priority for removal. Therefore, there will likely be an increase in the scope and number of immigration raids.      

What ICE Raids Mean for U.S. Employers

While last week’s ICE raids apparently were focused on individuals with an outstanding order of removal, foreign nationals who re-entered the United States without authorization after deportation, and foreign nationals with criminal convictions, ICE’s focus could shift to include other foreign nationals or employers at any time.  Historically, immigration enforcement under Republican administrations has focused on worksite raids, while under Democratic administrations the focus has been more individualized. If this tradition continues, we anticipate an increase in worksite visits and I-9 audits in the coming years. Below are some ways U.S. employers can prepare for a more stringent immigration environment:

  • Ensure compliance with Form I-9 requirements.  

Employers are required to verify employees’ U.S. work authorization and identity on Form I-9. Companies should regularly self-audit I-9 forms to ensure proper procedures are being followed. Self-auditing includes ensuring all required fields were completed; verifying that the U.S. work authorization document provided in Section 2 has not expired; and re-verifying U.S. work authorization or other updated data in Section 3 when applicable.

Further, U.S. employers with foreign national employees should have a reliable system in place to track when foreign national employees’ U.S. work authorization is expiring and take steps to renew expiring immigration documents in a timely manner.

  • Become familiar with Federal and state E-Verify requirements. 

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows employers to confirm their employees’ U.S work authorization. Generally, E-Verify is a voluntary program; but, in some states and for certain types of employers, enrollment in E-Verify is mandatory. Companies should determine whether they are required to enroll in E-Verify and, if they are, ensure strict compliance with the program.

  • Be prepared for ICE site visits.

Coordinate with your immigration counsel to develop an action plan for handling ICE site visits. Consider instructing your receptionist on how to handle a visit by an ICE officer and provide him or her with contact information for the company representative who will liaise with the ICE officer. It is important to have all required immigration documents, including Labor Condition Application Public Access Files and I-9 Forms, in proper order in a location that is easily accessible upon short notice.

  • Develop a contingency plan.

In today’s heightened enforcement environment where a number of foreign national employees may be affected directly or indirectly by ICE raids, employers should develop a plan in the event key personnel are unable to perform their job duties. Cross-training other employees, creating relationships with staffing companies, using automation, and hiring backup workers are some ways companies can prepare in the event their workforce is affected by immigration raids.    

©2017 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.


About this Author

Scott Decker, Employment Immigration Attorney, Greenberg Traurig, international employer compliance lawyer, US Department of Labor counsel
Senior Associate

Scott T. Decker focuses his practice on immigration-related employment law, counseling national and international employers on compliance, immigration policy and strategy. He regularly conducts audits to assess I-9 compliance and represents employers before the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association


  • Legal Intern,...
Kristin Aquino Pham, Greenberg Traurig, Immigration Matters Lawyer, VISA litigation Attorney

Kristin Aquino-Pham has over a decade of experience advising businesses on various aspects of Federal immigration law, including I-9 and E-Verify regulations, nonimmigrant visa petitions/applications (B-1/B-2, H-1B, L-1, TN, H-3, E-3, O-1, P-3, etc.), immigrant visa petitions (all employment-based categories), green card processes, and naturalization. She also has experience obtaining employment or business visas for other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Most recently, she built and managed an in-house immigration practice for an IT consulting and workforce management company with over 300 foreign national employees. Kristin is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where she has served on multiple committees for the GA-AL Chapter, and she is actively involved with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.