Federal immigration agents will end mass workplace arrests of immigrant employees suspected of living in the U.S. without legal permission, reports the Associated Press. Instead, the focus will shift to pursuing “unscrupulous employers who exploit the vulnerability of undocumented workers” and emphasize fighting worker abuse including paying substandard wages, unsafe working conditions and human trafficking. Heads of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services have been directed to draw up a plan within two months to increase employer penalties, encourage workers to report unscrupulous practices without fear and coordinate with other agencies, such as the Department of Labor.
The Wall Street Journal Reports that, in an internal memo, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that by more aggressively going after “unscrupulous” employers who take advantage of immigrants in the country illegally by paying them lower wages the department can better the demand for illegal employment. Employers that engage in such practices create an unfair labor market because they make it tougher for people who are authorized to work to find jobs paying living wages. They can also unfairly lower the cost of their products. Mayorkas said that businesses that merely employ immigrants not authorized to work but offer them fair wages and safe working conditions wouldn’t be a priority for immigration enforcement.