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Employer Immigration Raid Defense


ILG assists employers with I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid preparation and response; I-9 audit responses and other enforcement actions.   

Employers are often provided with clues that a work-site raid is imminent.  Employers should be aware of warning signs that indicate it may have become a target for a worksite enforcement investigation. Note the following possible indicators:


  • Employer may have directly witnessed evidence that it is under ICE surveillance.

  • Employer may have employees who have been arrested for criminal activity.  This can often lead to scrutiny of the employer by local authorities and ICE.    

  • Employer may have employees who are being detained by the im­migration authorities.

  • Employer has received SSA no-match letters covering large portions of its workforce.

  • Employer operates in a high-risk industry (agriculture, roofing, construction, meatpacking)

  • Employer may have been visited by ICE ostensibly for a routine 1-9 inspection but in reality pursuant to an on-going criminal investigation

  • Employer may have been visited by the DOL and inspectors may have uncovered workplace wage violations.

  • Employer may have been visited by state regulators who have uncovered tax or labor violations.


Employers are urged to im­mediately contact qualified immigration counsel for purposes of conducting an in-house audit of its I-9 compliance program if it suspects that an enforcement action is imminent.  In this environment of increasing government raids at work-sites, it is clear that the government views the employment verifica­tion process as a key part of its larger enforcement efforts.  Employers should review their business practices to ensure compliance with the law and to minimize expo­sure in the event of an investigation.  Once the warrant a is­sued, the employer will have little or no control over the location of the search, the interrogation of its em­ployees, or the seizure of documents or electronic equipment containing its business records.

Being prepared for an immigration raid is critical.  Creating a plan and understanding your rights can minimize the devastating impact of a raid.  The following steps should be taken in order to properly prepare for a raid:


  1. Assign coordinators who can organize and direct a response to minimize any confusion that may occur during and after a raid.  The coordinators can help with delegating and verifying information.

  2. Collect contact information for foreign consulates in your area.

  3. Create a response team of attorneys and organizational Legal and HR leadership.  You should have the contact information of a competent local criminal defense attorney for the owners and managers, and a competent immigration lawyer for the workers and their families.  Charitable organizations such as Catholic Charities or La Raza can be very helpful as well.  

  4. Develop a “raid fund”-Set aside easily accessible funds for a raid.   These funds may be needed to post bond, pay attorneys, arrange transportation, etc. 



Employee rights during a raid:


  1. Most immigrants do not know that they also have the right to remain silent.  Both employer and employee should be aware of their right to remain silent.  Remaining silent restricts the employee and the employer from giving any information to the authorities which may later work against you.

  2. Foreign nationals should stay calm.  THEY MUST NOT RUN, as this can be construed as an admission of guilt.  This type of suspicious act is enough evidence for ICE to detain the individual.

  3. Foreign nationals are often frightened and panicked during a raid.  It is important that they do not lie or carry false documents.  The possession of false documents is incriminating and is grounds for detention.

  4. If immigration authorities come to their home, they should ask for a signed warrant.  They have a right to view the warrant; ask them to pass it under the door.  If they open the door it could be considered permitting them to enter.  Make sure it is signed by a judge and says in detail the places the agent(s) are authorized to enter.  If it is signed by an officer you cannot stop them from entering the home, but you can state you do not consent to the search, which limits it to the areas listed on the warrant.  If they are looking for a person listed on the warrant, they must go with the agents and others in the home have a right to remain silent. Never interfere physically with the agents.

  5. If the employee is stopped on the street, they cannot be arrested unless there is evidence that they are an unauthorized non-citizen.  If the agents approach the foreigner with questions, they should ask if they may go.  If they say yes, the foreign national should walk away slowly.  If they say no, they must not attempt to leave.  One is only required to give one’s name and nothing else.  Remain silent and ask to speak with a lawyer.  Police and Immigration have the right to search you to make sure you are not carrying weapons or illegal materials, including false documents.  Do not resist this inspection.

  6. If the employee gets arrested, inform them not to sign anything, especially if it’s in a language they cannot read.  Present their (genuine) work permit or green card, if they have one.  Instruct them specifically not to sign a “voluntary departure” or “stipulated orders of removal” without first talking to a lawyer. Signing a voluntary departure agreement means that they won’t get a hearing, they will have to leave the U.S., and they may never be allowed to enter the U.S. again or get legal immigration status. Signing a stipulated order means that you waive your rights to a hearing before a judge and serves as a final order of removal (deportation) signed by the judge.

  7. Have the employee call a (legal) family member and an attorney.  Have them memorize a number of an attorney or carry a ‘Know Your Rights’ card with their immigration attorney’s name and contact information. They have the right to contact an attorney and their consulate.

Please contact us to find out how we can help your business in the difficult current immigration environment.  









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