California to Employers: ICE Needs a Warrant to Enter

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By Laura Mahoney

California officials are advising employers and employees to block Immigration and Customs Enforcement inspectors from accessing worker records without a warrant, in order to comply with a new state law.

The law forbids employers from giving “voluntary consent” to allow ICE agents to enter nonpublic areas of a workplace or access employment records. ICE agents must have a warrant, or must make a formal request for I-9 eligibility verification forms, to access workplaces and records.

In an advisory to employers and answers to frequently asked questions issued Feb. 13, Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) and Assemblyman David Chu (D) said they’re trying to help employers and employees understand the state Immigration Worker Protection Act, which took effect Jan. 1.

Becerra said it’s unclear if recent ICE inspections at 77 businesses in California resulted in violations of the new law. He said the AG’s office is depending on people to report ICE activity in the state.

“We’re in learning mode,” he said.

The AG’s office, California Labor Commissioner Julie Su, and other state officials are focused on educating employers and employees to prevent unlawful entry into workplaces, Becerra said. They’re working with groups such as the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and labor unions to spread the word.

Chu said the Trump administration’s stepped up immigration enforcement is intimidating workers and employers.

“These raids can crush business,” Chu said. “We don’t think employers should be aiding an abetting unconstitutional searches.”

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