The Biden administration announced that immigration raids will shift their focus to stopping employees who exploit immigrants and stop persecuting undocumented workers.
Over the past few months, the current administration has worked to end immigration raids in workplaces where millions of undocumented workers subsist. The government has chosen to focus on employers who exploit migrants and put them through inhumane conditions under threat of deportation.
The new approach, which received the support of migrant advocacy groups and was widely criticized by sectors of the opposition, was recently communicated through an official memorandum published by Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
This move represents another key departure from Trump-era immigration policies. During the previous administration, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) carried out the largest number of anti-immigration operations statewide through a series of raids on food processing plants in Mississippi.
Immigration raids during the Trump administration were commonplace, causing fear in millions of undocumented workers living in the United States and distancing them even further from any means of help regarding the brutal conditions that many of them endured.
New policy regarding immigration raids sparks controversy among opponents and allies
Enforcement of immigration law in workplaces where undocumented workers are hired has always been a controversial topic in the immigration debate. Republicans generally agree to these repressive measures as a means to stop both employers and undocumented workers who are breaking the law by working without permission in the country.
The Democratic Party argues that it is the workers and not the employers who are disproportionately affected by the application of immigration law. In relation to this position, the Mayorkas memorandum targets “exploitative employers” and shift the focus of immigration raids to not be directed against workers, who are often exploited and lack other means to survive.
“The mass deployment of the workplace, which sometimes resulted in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, has traditionally not focused on the most pernicious aspect of the unauthorized employment problem in our country: exploitative employers. These highly visible operations misallocated law enforcement resources while chilling, and even served as a retaliatory tool for workers’ cooperation in workplace standards investigations. “
Reads Mayorkas’ memorandum.
Future measures and policies, he adds, will seek to have “more severe consequences” for those workers with the aim of reducing the demand for illegal employment, encouraging workers to denounce labor exploitation, and expanding coordination between state institutions.
“We will not tolerate unscrupulous companies that exploit undocumented workers, carry out illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions. Entrepreneurs involved in illegal acts will be the focus where our resources will be applied ”.
Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in his statement.
US economy needs migrant workers more than ever
The new policy comes during a critical labor shortage in the United States, accelerated by the pandemic, and gives reassurance that undocumented workers are not at risk of being massively deported. And the new focus will help fight the endemic exploitation of undocumented workers, since some companies that rely on them pay way below the market rate for jobs, taking advantage of the precarious situation of migrant workers and trying to undercut competitors.
“Refocusing resources to counter exploitative employers is a necessary step in protecting the American labor market and workers.”
Said Representative Bennie Thompson, and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
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