The Trump administration has eagerly pursued arrests of undocumented immigrants, culminating in a record-setting raid of Mississippi poultry plants last week. The administration has been far less aggressive in going after corporations involved in those cases, the Washington Post reports. Prosecuting corporations for immigration-related offenses was also relatively rare during the Obama administration, but it has slowed further under Trump, according to a database maintained by Duke University and the University of Virginia. The Corporate Prosecution Registry tracks cases in which companies, rather than individuals, are charged with violating federal law. It includes cases resolved with plea agreements as well as deferred and non-prosecution agreements.
There were at least 88 such cases against companies for immigration violations between 2009 and 2016 during the Obama administration and at least five companies prosecuted for immigration violations since Trump took office in 2017. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that no companies were prosecuted for knowingly hiring undocumented workers between April 2018 and March 2019. “Actual prosecution of employers for employing immigrants without proper documentation actually has been relatively rare,” the clearinghouse says. “It is striking that with all of the emphasis on prosecution of immigration offenses, prosecutions against the most serious corporate offenders has almost vanished under the new administration,” said Duke law Prof. Brandon Garrett. The Trump administration says it has made ensuring employers comply with immigration and labor laws a top priority. The number of criminal arrests of managers nearly doubled in fiscal 2018 to 100 compared with 59 in fiscal 2017. In the Mississippi cases, “I strongly suspect that the employers will be charged at some point. Search warrants are used to collect evidence,” said John Sandweg, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director in the Obama administration.