Local Immigration Officials Stepping-Up Workplace Inspections

It's not just undocumented migrants.  Federal agents are increasingly targeting employers who hire them, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

"This is a push of this administration that is currently in office to look what at the 'pull' factors that are bringing the illegal immigrants," HSI Deputy Special Agent in Charge Vance Callendar says.

From Oct. 1, 2017, through May 4, HSI opened 3,510 worksite investigations.  That's compared to 1,716 in fiscal year 2017.  

"This year, we're doing a much bigger push, so you should see double those numbers," he explains.

So far this fiscal year, there have been 610 administrative worksite-related arrests.  That's compared to 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests related to worksite enforcement last fiscal year.

Last year, in the San Antonio area of responsibility, which stretches from Waco to Eagle Pass, agents did about 130 workplace raids.  Callendar estimates about 40 were done in San Antonio.

Acting Executive Associate Director for HSI, Derek N. Benner, says the worksite enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law

"HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices."

Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of everyone they hire.  They must also document that information using an I-9 form.

Callendar met this week with San Antonio business leaders, touting the IMAGE program, which teams ICE up with employers.  It's basically a stamp of approval from the government, which they can then use when they're bidding for contracts.

It was supported by Congressman Henry Cuellar.

“As a big proponent of compliance, rather than just enforcement, I support the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers Program, also known as IMAGE, which promotes principles of ethical business conduct, prevents the hiring of unauthorized workers, and upholds workforce integrity.”

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