ICE and DHS Are Vigorously Pursuing Businesses in California and Texas
Companies in California and Texas that hire workers from Mexico are under heavy scrutiny and pursuit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Company owners and executives who are convicted could possibly serve decades behind bars.
As issues involving immigration in the spotlight during the midterm elections and with the White House assuming a rigid position against foreign citizens illegally crossing international borders to enter the United States, federal immigration enforcement agencies including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are vigorously ramping up their efforts to defend against illegal immigration. At present, ICE and DHS are focusing their attention on the southern border states with particular emphasis on California and Texas.
Federal Authorities Are Pursuing Companies for Immigration Violations
But, instead of targeting traffickers and illegal immigrants directly (even though such individuals are also facng dangerous risk for prosecution and removal from the country), ICE and DHS have instead set trained their scopes on the American businesses that provide job opportunities to undocumented workers. Recently, ICE and DHS have made hundreds of arrests in California and Texas, and numerous business owners and executives (including entrepreneurs with small, family-run businesses and executives at major corporations with hundreds of employees) are now staring down criminal litigation for a broad array of immigration-related violations.
Earlier this year, for example, ICE carried out an “immigration sweep” in Southern California in which 122 independent businesses were involved. This came after a similar sweep they conducted in Northern California in which they pursued at least 77 local companies. Between these two dragnet efforts, the law enforcement officials racked up hundreds of arrests.
Although California and Texas are at the center of the ICE and DHS crackdowns at the present time, employers in these states are not alone. According to a report by CNN after a recent raid in Northern Texas that culminated in more than 150 persons being detained:
“The raid in Texas is the latest of several recent crackdowns nationwide. In June, federal immigration agents targeted a meat supplier in Massillon, Ohio, and arrested more than 100 workers suspected of using stolen or fraudulent identification. A similar raid at a meatpacking plant in eastern Tennessee in April left dozens detained. . .”
“Last year, ICE’s then-acting director Thomas Homan said he ordered the agency’s investigative unit to increase enforcement actions at businesses by as much as fivefold.”
“Such arrests, he said, would target not just employees but also employers who knowingly hire people not authorized to work.”
As a result, business that hire undocumented workers, either knowingly or unknowingly, suddenly discover that they are in a very precarious, unenviable position. In California, this is exacerbated by the fact that the California Attorney General’s Office has announced in public that it intends to prosecute employers and businesses that get caught in federal immigration sweeps. In light of the fact that both state-level and federal-level offenses carry the possibility of substantial financial penalties (and in some cases, even incarceration), companies’ owners, managers, and executives are advised to take swift and strategic action to safeguard themselves at the first sign of potential law enforcement action.
Safeguarding Your Company, Yourself and Your Managers in the event of an ICE or DHS Immigration Sweep
Due to ICE’s and DHS’s aggressive efforts to go after business owners and executives as well as the undocumented workers, organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are coming forward to try to make sure individuals who get caught up in immigration raids and crackdowns are apprised of their legal rights. For instance, the ACLU of Northern California has published a very good list of steps to take if ICE or DHS agents come to your door. These steps include:
Do not open your door until you have been shown a warrant.
Make certain that the warrant was issued by a federal court and hat it was tsigned by a federal judge.
Inform the officials that you do not give your consent to any unwarranted search if ICE or DHS agents attempt to force their way in, but do not physically resist.
Do your best to take photos and videos documenting all ICE and DHS activities. After the raid or sweep is over, write down as many details as you can remember.
Verbally assert your right to legal counsel and your right to remain silent.
Legal Defense against Federal Criminal Charges after an ICE or DHS Raid
If you are confronted with federal criminal charges as a result of an ICE or DHS raid in California, Texas, or any other state, you will need to take appropriate steps to defend yourself as quickly as you can. Because the federal government is so heavily focussed on combating illegal immigration, you can, unfortunately, be fairly confident that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will fight aggressively to convict you at trial. Nonetheless, having been arrested does not automatically say that you are guilty. Also, even if you have committed a federal immigration offense (which you should never assume is the case), this does not automatically mean that you will draw a criminal conviction. You could have a number of defenses available. But we must emphasize that you need to be extremely careful to avoid pitfalls that could render it less possible to keep you out of prison.
Our attorneys, protect company owners and corporate executives who are dealing with federal immigration charges by:
Conducting totally confidential, one-on-one legal consultations in California and Texas;
Making connections with ICE, DHS, and/or the U.S. Attorney’s Office to find out what exactly initially triggered the investigation;
Asserting apparent Constitutional violations in the short term (e.g., unlawful searches and seizures) while simultaneously working speedily to assemble comprehensive and customized defense strategies for each client;
Employing the facts of the case and applicable legislation to negotiate for a favorable pre-trial resolution; and
If necessary, preparing to present a vigorous defense in federal district court.
Your current circumstances notwithstanding, if you have received any form of contact or had any interaction with ICE or DHS, it is paramount that you find and enlist experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Lawyers on our federal defense team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we can arrange for you to speak with one of our highly-experienced defense attorneys right away.