DHS to Stop Detaining Illegal Immigrants at Worksites

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that in order to “effectively protect the American labor market, the conditions of the American worksite, and the dignity of the individuals,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers will no longer raid and arrest undocumented employees at worksites and will focus on their employers instead. The DHS is ordered not to place undocumented workers in detention centers and immigration proceedings.

 The memo directs the DHS to go after unscrupulous employers who benefit from hiring undocumented immigrants and use exploit their vulnerability by paying substandard wages and providing unsafe working conditions. Illegal business practices allow such employers to drive costs down and to create an unfair advantage compared to other business owners who follow the law.  

The new policy contrasts the previous administration’s ones, under which mass worksite raids and arrests were conducted regularly. According to Mayorkas, such raids misuse the agency’s resources and prevent the immigrant workers from cooperating with the authorities. The agency hopes that new policies would encourage undocumented workers, including victims of forced labor and human trafficking, to cooperate with the authorities in prosecuting the employers who embark on illegal business practices. 

The memo is a part of the current administration’s steps in narrowing down the pool of undocumented immigrants who can be arrested and then deported. Prior to the memo’s issuance, the authorities already refrained from arresting pregnant and nursing women, crime victims, and immigrants with a clear criminal record. 

Photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash

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