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Media (group)Press Release

Statement: New Guidelines Announced on Workplace Enforcement Targeting Employers

By May 1, 2009One Comment

May 1, 2009

EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703 ext 205
Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773-588-9158
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323-937-3718

Announcement of New Guidelines on Workplace Enforcement Targeting Employers

(Los Angeles, CA) – The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates – the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago and the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles – are encouraged by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) announcement of new guidelines on worksite raids issued to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that target employers’ unlawful hiring practices. Nevertheless, we continue to express our longstanding concerns on the inhumane treatment of employees swept up in the raids and the impact immigrant enforcement activities have on families and communities.

Several provisions outlined in the DHS’ Worksite Enforcement Strategy Fact Sheet indicate a focus on targeting unscrupulous employers before detaining any workers. This includes pursuing evidence against the employer first, requiring field offices to notify ICE headquarters prior to conducting a raid with the proposed strategy on targeting the employer, and obtaining warrants to prosecute the targeted employer. In the past, tips rather than any systematic investigation could launch a DHS raid. Notably, the new guidelines reduce the threshold from 150 to 25 employees to activate existing humanitarian guidelines to quickly identify persons arrested who are sole caregivers or who should be released for other humanitarian reasons. These guidelines were the result of national community outcry following the New Bedford, Massachusetts raids in 2007.

However, genuine concerns still remain given that the statement does not appear to address raids at homes and public areas. Secondly, the existing humanitarian guidelines have been widely criticized for its inconsistent implementation and failure to comprehensively curb the number of families torn apart or the protection of rights to due process. For example, the guidelines do not explicitly state that immigrants should be detained in facilities close to their families. Furthermore, as guidelines they outline best practices, rather than regulations or legal requirements.

Fixing the broken immigration system is going to require Administrative and legislative action. While the announcement by DHS on new guidelines that target employers signals improvements over existing workforce enforcement, we still have a long way to go on immigration reform. The key to strengthening our economy and making America more secure for all workers is to advance comprehensive immigration reform policies. NAKASEC and its affiliates remained committed to achieving these policy goals. This factsheet of Korean Americans and CIR provides more information about the impact to our community.

The full directive has yet to be publicly distributed. A copy of DHS’ statement can be downloaded at New DHS Guidelines (April 30, 2009).