New DHS immigration raid guidelines: focus on employers, not employees

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Ginger Thompson of the New York Times offers "Immigration Agents to Turn Focus to Employers" (link):

In an effort to crack down on illegal labor, the Department of Homeland Security intends to step up enforcement efforts against employers who knowingly hire such workers.

Under guidelines to be issued Thursday to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, agents will be instructed to take aim at employers and supervisors for prosecution “through the use of carefully planned criminal investigations.”

...[Employers won't like it, but] advocates who have long considered raids at work sites to be symbols of a crackdown that, they say, violates workers’ rights and divides immigrant families while ignoring employer abuses. Raising the bar on what is required to undertake such raids could result in fewer of them...

Among the most significant of the new guidelines is one in which agents are instructed to “obtain indictments, criminal arrest or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. attorney’s office to prosecute the targeted employer, before arresting employees for civil immigration violations at a work site.”

The guidelines call on agents to seek civil penalties, including fines and disbarment from federal contracts, in cases where they do not have enough evidence to press criminal charges. And they require that at least 14 days before conducting a raid, the relevant field office notify ICE headquarters with information including a proposed strategy for prosecuting the employer...

More hand-tying regulations at the link. On the one hand, this will result in fewer raids and will send a strong message to potential illegal aliens that they don't have much to worry about from ICE; if they're caught they might even get work permits and be released as Napolitano did in a previous case. On the other hand, a few high-profile prosecutions might spur other employers to abide by our laws. It would also cause them to fight even harder to change our laws to suit them. Yet, those who support amnesty have thankfully already divided themselves for us. And, it could take months or years to build and prosecute these cases against employers.