The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued updated enforcement guidelines to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE must focus worksite enforcement program resources on "the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers . …" The guidelines also emphasize that ICE will

  • continue executing arrests and processing of illegal workers who are discovered during employer investigation; and
  • use all available civilian and administrative tools to penalize and deter illegal employment.

ICE field agents must have indictments, criminal arrests or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute an employer before arresting employees for civil immigration violations.

The new guidelines reflect the Obama Administration's focus on employers who hire unauthorized workers. The previous administration was criticized for mass raids that ended in thousands of unauthorized worker arrests while very few employers were prosecuted for illegal hiring practices.