(Trends Wide) — The Biden administration will end mass arrests of immigrants at workplaces and instead target employers who exploit undocumented workers, according to a newly released memorandum by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
The memo, addressed to the heads of the immigration agencies of the Department of Homeland Security, marks another shift in the Trump administration’s immigration policies. In particular, under former President Donald Trump, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) carried out the largest immigration crackdown in a single state with a series of raids on U.S. plants. poultry processing in Mississippi.
Law enforcement in the workplace has been a contentious topic in the immigration debate. Republicans generally favor it as a means of holding employers and undocumented workers accountable for breaking the law, while Democrats argue that workers, not employers, often bear the brunt of the punishment. The Mayorkas memorandum focuses on “exploitative employers”, rather than raids targeting workers.
“The deployment of massive operations in workplaces, sometimes resulting in the simultaneous detention of hundreds of workers, did not focus on the most damaging aspect of the problem of unauthorized employment in our country: exploitative employers,” says the Mayorkas memorandum.
“These highly visible operations misallocated resources for law enforcement, while chilling, and even serving as a retaliatory tool, workers’ cooperation in investigations into workplace standards,” adds.
Future policies and practices, the memo adds, should offer “more severe consequences” to employers to reduce the demand for illegal employment; encourage workers to report violations; and expand inter-institutional coordination.
“We will not tolerate unscrupulous employers who exploit unauthorized workers, perform illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions. Employers who perform illegal acts force us to refocus our law enforcement resources,” Mayorkas said in a statement. .