While Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to crack down on border security and conduct random immigration raids, there’s a few things employers need to know. Kelly Fortier, a farm immigration attorney with the firm Michael Best, will be speaking at the 2019 Executive Women in Agriculture conference to help employers understand what they need to know about immigrant labor.
If there’s an ICE raid on your farm, follow these steps provided by Fortier.
1. Know Your Private Property Rights. You do not have to give private property access to any government official without consent. “Unless they have some kind of subpoena or warrant, they’re not allowed to just walk around without the permission of the business owner,” she says. Additionally, Fortier suggests every farm have a plan in place to know what to do if an immigration enforcement agent shows up. Ensure whoever the agent’s first point of contact knows to call the farm owner, knows who has the ability to give agents consent to be on the property without a warrant, and make sure everyone knows what to do if the agent does have a warrant. “It seems like common sense, but in the heat of the moment it’s really nice to have some kind of written procedure for what people should do,” she says.
2. Have Your Form I-9s in Oder. Fortier says it’s a good idea to ensure all of your I-9s are ready to go and organized. “If the government wants to look at employers they’ll usually look at the I-9s and start there,” she says. Fortier says it’s a good idea to audit the I-9s yourself to ensure they are filled out completely and void of any errors. The most common immigration-related fines for an employer are related to I-9 forms having some kind of error.
3. Craft a Staffing Plan. While most of the workers in question are being picked up at their home, the situation can still cause issues for farmers. Fortier recommends farmers have a staffing plan in place in the event one or more of their employees does not show up for work. “Once an individual is picked up, it’s very hard to predict when they might be coming back, if ever,” she says. “If there is an immigration problem, the farm may never see them again.”
4. Give Agents Your Full Cooperation. While you don’t have to allow agents to roam your private property without consent, it’s imperative that you aren’t seen as harboring a criminal. “If the government thinks you’re proactively hiding or sheltering individuals you know are in the country unlawfully, you could be facing criminal liability—even seizing of assets,” she says. Be sure employees know not to hide from agents, and be prepared to find an employee and bring them to an agent who arrives with a warrant for that person.
The Executive Women in Agriculture conference is an event dedicated exclusively to professional women producers. It will be held January 15-17, 2019, at the Hilton Chicago Downtown, as part of the 2019 Top Producer Summit. Register here.