Under new guidelines, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will have to build a case against an employer suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants before rounding up workers, reports the Houston Chronicle. The guidelines, issued by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday, represent a marked shift from the past administration's work site enforcement strategy, which resulted in a series of high-profile raids across the country but relatively few employer arrests. A DHS spokesman said the guidelines reflect a new “department-wide focus” to target employers by prosecuting them criminally.
The guidelines require that field agents have either an arrest, indictment, search warrant – or at least a commitment from a U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute an employer – before arresting employees for civil violations at a work site. The rules met with resentment from some business leaders. “The Obama administration doesn't want to see any more employees walked out in handcuffs, but they want to see employers walked out in handcuffs,” said Norman Adams, a Houston businessman who founded Texans for a Sensible Immigration Policy, an organization made up largely of commercial construction companies.