Immigration policy is often the source of new headlines and October was filled with them. The Biden Administration is looking to make some significant departures from Trump Era immigration policy and one major departure was announced on October 12th. The announcement made clear that U.S. immigration authorities would be stopping mass arrests of unauthorized immigrants at worksites. This attention and effort should instead be directed at holding employers who have been exploiting such workers accountable for their own wrongdoing.
Mass Worksite Arrests of Unauthorized Immigrants to End
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, released a memo stating that the Department should be prioritizing the fight against “unscrupulous” employers who often pay unauthorized immigrant workers subpar wages while simultaneously subjecting them to unsafe working conditions. This is not to mention the fact that such employers are also found to have been facilitating human trafficking as well as potential child exploitation.
The memo sets forth the Biden Administration is plans that center on remedying a number of immigration-related problems. One such problem is the impact these unfair labor practices can have on the overall U.S. labor market. When unauthorized immigrants are exploited for their vulnerability in such ways, the entirety of the labor market can be adversely impacted. Furthermore, this Announcement stems from administration efforts to limit the pool of those who can be detained and deported by ICE. Secretary Mayorkas has instructed high-ranking DHS officials to avoid placing unauthorized immigrants who have been subjected to labor exploitation into removal proceedings and to also consider granting these individuals temporary legal status, in part, to encourage cooperation with federal law enforcement.
ICE removal agents have been previously instructed to stop arresting pregnant or nursing women as well as victims of serious crimes and those unauthorized immigrants without serious criminal records. These limits on immigrant detentions are likely to be further condemned in light of the new announcement by Congressional Republicans. Republicans in Congress have already expressed their belief that restraints on immigration arrests have led to a drastic increase in intercepting immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under the recent policy announcement, there is the hope that by targeting employers, there could be a dramatic shift in making the labor market fairer. This could lead to a significant benefit to employers who are in competition with other employers who may have been unscrupulously exploiting immigrant workers to gain an unfair market advantage by doing things such as paying workers substandard wages. This is a notable shift in immigration policy from that of the Trump Administration which brought back large worksite arrest roundups.
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