The L.A. Korean Chamber of Commerce (KCC LA) and Koreatown Immigrant Workers Association (KIWA) held a seminar to educate local business owners about preparing for the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) investigations on Aug. 3. About 50 attendees are listening to the lecture.
“ICE agents must have a warrant from the court to search private properties.”
Business owners and the immigrant community as a whole are fearing the expansion of investigations held by ICE to clamp down on illegal immigrants working in the country.
To better educate the businesspeople, KCC LA and KIWA held the seminar at the Korean Education Center in L.A.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice attorney Katt Choi was the lecturer at the seminar. She discussed ▶current trends in immigration investigations ▶auditing I-9 ▶how to respond to sudden investigations on short notice.
“ICE has expanded its investigations beyond the ethical limit,” said Choi. “Business owners must be aware of their rights to respond to this properly.”
During former President Barrack Obama’s term, there were groups of illegal immigrants who were prioritized to be deported. However, the Trump administration are simply deporting all illegal immigrants without such a list. ICE agents are now checking up on everyone’s immigration status when carrying out their sudden investigations. When it is confirmed that anyone does not have legal status, those people are immediately arrested.
Recently, even green card holders without criminal records or beneficiaries of DACA are increasingly finding themselves getting arrested. The duration of deporting an illegal immigrant is also being shortened. Choi added that while the state government and the LAPD are not assisting ICE, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is cooperating with the investigations.
I-9 audits are done to make sure businesses are not employing illegal immigrants. The paperwork for I-9 must be kept for at least three years or for a year since leaving a job. Violating this policy could lead to prosecution.
ICE agents are often raiding businesses to carry out their investigations. However, they must possess a warrant issued by the court to inspect areas labeled as “staff only” by its entrance.
Businesses have the right to refuse ICE agents to enter “staff only” areas if there is no warrant. To do that, the business owner must know how to differentiate paperwork issued by the court.
A paperwork issued internally by ICE simply contains the names of the agents. However, paperwork issued by the court provides information including the name of the judge, court and the issue date. Any paperwork that is not issued by the court cannot be used by ICE agents to conduct searches.
Choi also advised that employees at the business have the right to remain silent and that may even be the best way to react to investigations. Responding without legal representation could work against the employees.
“Not all ICE agents have the right to enter, arrest or investigate any property,” Choi said. “Business owners not only should know what their rights are, but they should also educate their employees in advance.”
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By Sungchul Jin