In response to the news that ICE is poised to conduct a widespread immigration crackdown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned the state’s employers on Thursday that they could face legal repercussions, including fines up to $10,000, if they choose to assist federal immigration authorities in this effort.
“It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know – more specifically today, employers – that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,” Becerra said at a news conference. “We will prosecute those who violate the law.”
Reports that immigration agents plan to target Northern California communities for deportations has sparked widespread fears of mass workplace raids. The immigration crackdown comes after California Gov. Jerry Brown laid down the gauntlet in October by signing legislation enacting a statewide sanctuary law in his efforts to protect illegal immigrants. His new law seeks to restrict local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with immigration authorities.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director Thomas Homan told a Fox News host earlier this month that “California better hold on tight… If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will,” prompting a query from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to brief them on how raids are prioritized.
Becerra repeatedly referred to the reports as “rumors,” and said the state Department of Justice was not aware of planned sweeps targeting Northern California, in particular, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee.
Becerra said the state Department of Justice and the state Labor Commissioner’s Office plan to issue formal guidance to all California employers, public and private, notifying them of their responsibilities under California’s “Immigrant Worker Protection Act,” which took effect Jan. 1.
Authored by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu, the bill:
▪ Requires employers to ask immigration agents for a warrant before granting access to a worksite.
▪ Prevents employers from voluntarily sharing confidential employee information without a subpoena.
▪ Requires employers to notify their workers before a federal audit of employee records.
▪ Gives the attorney general and labor commissioner exclusive authority to enforce new provisions of state labor laws.
▪ Prohibits employers from re-verifying information on employment verification forms, unless compelled to by federal law.