ICE conducted worksite raids at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing worksite enforcement investigation. Three poultry plants operated by Peco Foods in three different towns, and a fourth poultry plant run by Koch Farms, were among the facilities raided.
ICE executed federal search warrants and seized business records from management and detained approximately 680 workers. Most of those workers arrested will remain detained at the discretion of ICE, until a date is set with an immigration judge for weeks or months after the arrest. With such an immediate loss of their workforce, employers may think about what plans and policies to prepare for what may be an increase in large-scale immigration raids that have not been previously seen this decade.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
In an environment of increased domestic immigration enforcement, employers are advised to educate themselves about options when ICE shows up, keep current with your responsibilities under both state and federal laws, and develop a plan. First, understand your options are different during an ICE raid compared to an ICE audit. During an ICE raid, ICE agents enter the workplace without notice for purpose of detecting and detaining certain workers. Raids require a search warrant from a judge (unless your operation is within 25 miles of a U.S. border). In contrast, an ICE audit is a formal review of documents for verification of workers’ identity and eligibility to work lawfully. An ICE audit typically takes the form of a Notice of Inspection (NOI).
As we’ve discussed before, in California, employer interactions with ICE are complicated by AB 450, which prohibits employers from voluntarily consenting to ICE raids. In short, California employers should not consent to any requests from ICE to look around and should ask for a judicial warrant if ICE agents say they are entitled to enter the premises. You can find our previous articles on AB 450 here or if you are on the road, you can listen to our Podcast “I-9 Audits - What to Do When ICE Shows Up” here. Note, provisions of AB 450 are still in litigation so keep checking back for updates.