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Worksite Enforcement

Worksite Enforcement Advisory - Know Your Workforce, the Key to Immigration Compliance

Effective worksite enforcement plays an important role in the fight against illegal immigration and in protecting our homeland. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has developed a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy that promotes national security, protects critical infrastructure and ensures fair labor standards.

The Worksite Enforcement Unit’s mission encompasses enforcement activities intended to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks posed by unauthorized workers employed in secure areas of our nation’s critical infrastructure. In order to fulfill this mission, ICE special agents apply risk assessment principles to their critical infrastructure and worksite enforcement cases in order to maximize the impact of our limited resources against the most significant threats and violators.

Though worksite enforcement efforts are focused on investigations related to critical infrastructure and national security, these efforts and resources are also extended to other places of employment. Unauthorized workers employed at sensitive sites and critical infrastructure facilities—such as airports, seaports, nuclear plants, chemical plants and defense facilities—pose serious homeland security threats.

Worksite enforcement investigations often involve egregious violations of criminal statutes by employers and widespread abuses, and by uncovering such violations, ICE can send a strong deterrent message to other employers who knowingly employ illegal aliens. These worksite enforcement cases often involve additional violations such as alien smuggling, alien harboring, document fraud, money laundering, fraud or worker exploitation.

ICE agents use many tools to conduct these worksite enforcement investigations, among them ICE’s Forensic Documents Laboratory, which determines the authenticity of documents used to establish employment eligibility. ICE also works with the private sector to educate employers about their responsibilities to hire only authorized workers and how to accurately verify employment eligibility.

Illegal workers frequently lack the employment protections afforded those with legal status and are less likely to report workplace safety violations and other concerns. In addition, unscrupulous employers are likely to pay illegal workers substandard wages or force them to endure intolerable working conditions. In addition to alleviating the potential threat posed to national security, ICE’s efforts also prohibit employers from taking advantage of illegal workers. ICE’s Worksite Enforcement Unit also helps employers improve worksite enforcement of employment regulations. The unit is currently engaged in developing automated mechanisms that will enable security agencies controlling access to sensitive facilities to verify immigration status independently before granting access to new employees.

Worksite Enforcement (WSE) Investigations

Worksite Enforcement investigations focus on egregious employers involved in criminal activity or worker exploitation. This type of employer violation will often involve alien smuggling, document fraud, human rights abuses and/or other criminal or substantive administrative immigration or customs violations having a direct nexus to the employment of unauthorized workers. Worksite investigations also encompass employers who are subjecting unauthorized alien workers to substandard or abusive working conditions. Also included in these types of investigations are employers who utilize force, threat, or coercion, such as threats to have employees deported in order to keep the unauthorized alien workers from reporting the substandard wage or working conditions.

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