ICE Worksite Raids – What Employers Should Know

Immigration enforcement has been the focal theme of the Trump administration.  Immigration issues and compliance continue to be often times, complex, and misunderstood by many.  It is more important now than ever for employers to not only be compliant, but also be well informed about their rights and duties in the event of a worksite raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Here are few pointers:

  • Designate Staff to interact with ICE

Employers should designate staff to interact with ICE agents during the raids. The designated people should call the company lawyer immediately upon arrival of ICE.  The lawyer may be able to come to the worksite quickly to assist or speak to the ICE officers over the phone.   The designated representative would also be responsible for determining whether the agents have a proper legal warrant and should deny the agents entry if they do not have the necessary warrant to search the work premises. 

The representative can accept the warrant but not consent to the search; if the search still proceeds, it can be challenged later if there if there are grounds to do so.

  • ICE must have a valid search warrant or express consent to enter non-public areas of a workplace.

ICE officers cannot enter private areas of a workplace without express consent of the company representative or a valid judicial search warrant.  A valid warrant must be signed and dated by a judge and include a time frame within which the search must be conducted, a description of the premises to be searched, and a list of items to be searched for and seized (e.g., payroll records, employee identification documents, I-9 forms, etc.).

  • All workers have the right to remain silent

All employees regardless of their immigration status have legal rights, including the right to remain silent.  It is advisable that employees exercise their right to remain silent and request to speak with their attorney.  Employees may also refuse to show identity documents that disclose their country of nationality or citizenship.

  • Document what ICE agents do during a raid

Company representatives should document ICE’s actions during a raid as it is within their rights to do so; this becomes particularly important in situations where consent to the search is not given.  The following should be noted and/or recorded:

  • Names of the ICE agents
  • Property, equipment seized
  • Names of people questioned and the type of questions asked by ICE agents
  • Names of people detained
  • If any use of force or intimidation by the agents


Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate

Keywords: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, Worksite, Raids

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