Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued by Western Growers

Because President Donald Trump has issued a number of immigration-related executive orders, including the “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which focuses on interior immigration enforcement, Western Growers has issued a warning to its members.

Western Growers, which represents farmers in Arizona, California, and Colorado who produce half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, advises its members to begin preparing for increased worksite enforcement and renewed emphasis on Form I-9 audits.

Employers should be proactive to recognize and correct Form I-9 problems before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) comes knocking on the door. Now is the time to audit all Form I-9s to ensure they are completed fully and accurately.

“Minor paperwork mistakes” or “technical errors” can result in costly penalties for employers. Employers must make appropriate corrections if they have identified mistakes on their Form I-9s.

It is important that employers perform internal audits on a regular basis and make corrections before receiving a Notice of Inspection from ICE. If employers wait to make corrections after ICE sends a “Notice of Inspection,” they will likely incur much steeper fines and penalties, up to $1,100 for each I-9 or employee for even “minor” technical violations.

Fines are significantly higher for more substantive I-9 violations (e.g., missing work authorization information, missing I-9’s, etc.); and up to $16,000 for knowingly employing unauthorized workers.

Correcting Form I-9’s incorrectly can result in additional penalties. So members should consult legal counsel, or — at a minimum — have staff specifically trained on how to properly correct I-9’s, before making corrections.

As Western Growers noted in a previous blog post, in his first week in office, Trump signed a flurry of immigration-related executive orders.

The “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” executive order primarily concerns the building of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. Republican congressional leaders have said they will move forward with plans to approve funds for the wall, which they estimate will cost between $12 billion and $15 billion.

The “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” executive order pertains to interior enforcement, including reversing the enforcement priorities that had been put into place under the Obama Administration, such as making agriculture a low priority for immigration enforcement.

This order also calls for prioritizing the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have, among other things, been “convicted of any criminal offense,” “have been charged with any criminal offense,” “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” or “have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter.” The order also gives significant latitude to ICE officers in making such determinations.

Additionally, the interior enforcement order calls on the Department of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 additional ICE officers and empowers state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration enforcement.

Western Growers expects President Trump to sign more immigration-related executive orders in the near future, including one affecting foreign visa programs, including the H-2A program. Another order is expected to allow recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) authorization to remain in their current status but disallow further DACA renewals.

 

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12 comments on “Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued by Western Growers

  1. It isn’t hard enough, let’s make it impossible to have hard working Mexicans move in and out of the country. Here in wine country it is as close to 100% Mexicans doing all the hand work. I asked a grower friend when was the last time an Anglo American worked for him. Without a seconds pause he said ” 42 years ago, he lasted a half day”. I am hoping a lot of growers are second guessing the Republican and Trump votes they cast. Nobody has ever seen this crazy stuff. Additional 10,000 ICE officers. Great idea, tax payers pay to trash our own workforce!

  2. Before we blow a gasket, let’s remember that the current initiative targets illegal immigrants who are convicted felons. Growers should never expect members of their workforce – legal or illegal – to be shielded from law enforcement. And just how long ago did growers get comfortable with the word “illegal” when running their businesses? Was it when liberals everywhere eased their consciences by switching to “undocumented”?

  3. This is so much more complicated then getting use to the word illegal Liberal vs Republican. There isn’t a farmer out there that would not prefer a staff that speaks the same language he/she does. What the agricultural workforce is facing is an inability of our political system to reconcile food price pressure over wages, work ethic over entitlement. I’ve been farming with a predominantly Hispanic workforce for more than nearly 30 years. We use e-verify and many of the folks on staff make considerably more than minimum wage. I have repeatedly invested in local non-Hispanic labor to fill openings in our staff, with training programs and resources, but without success. The most affective way to help feed our country and to support countries that are still developing is to provide a work visa program that easy to navigate and a win-win for both sides. If someone in your circle of influence is telling you they tried to get a job working in Ag in the last 3 years and were turned away because of an illegal workforce, I would be very surprised.

  4. I have worked in the agricultural industry for 35 years and we can’t have it both ways. Open Boarders when we want workers and a wall when we want security. The current program makes it very hard to find a steady supply of workers and that needs to change. At the same time we need to know who is coming into our country. Mostly I would like to ask my fellow farmers and ranchers to stop whining!

  5. I am sure all farmers make sure that the work documents they have on file are correct and IAW with all rules and regulations issued by the state or federal govt. I think if the welfare amounts were lowered or somehow provide incentive to those receiving tax payer dollars to work in the ag sector without worrying about losing their benefits right off the bat. One other thing to consider. It has been so long since US citizens have worked in the fields it has become “migrant worker” territory. A friend of mine told me that if a local wanted to work in the fields he was, shall we say discouraged by the work force. The local was invading their turf. Something to think about when you are looking at your migrant labor force.

  6. Before we all get our panties in a bunch y’all need to remember one thing. Immigrants are still welcome, they are still an neccessary part of our fruit and vegetable industry and most are still good people. The only thing that is being targeted as change for us is that now they must come into the US legally and how is that wrong? Some of our workers, some of our elegal workers have been employed by us for years and even decades. Don’t ya think that would have been suficiant time get done what needed to be done to make themselves legal? Now I’m all for the help, can’t do it without the mexican workforce but it’s time we do it right! If we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem and deserve any penalty that goes along with it!

  7. The focus is all wrong. Money being spent on a wall and increased security, harnessing fear and unrest to further an agenda are poor substitutes for leadership and are just as unlikely to create a working solution as is amnesty without a wall. If any Administration in the last 40 yrs. had had the courage, foresight and bipartisan support to enhance and implement an effective Work Visa program, then closing off the border and increasing security to protect our family’s and citizen would have been welcomed. The current focus is a shell game putting emotion first and viable solutions last. Fix the Work Visa Program so farmers have to open their doors to local workers but can have access to registered seasonal labor from the rest of the world if they don’t show up. Reduce the demand for an illegal workforce, streamline the process for those illegal immigrants that have put in time and shown they want to be a productive part of our melting pot and then build a wall to help secure our country from those who seek to circumvent a viable entry process.

  8. Lots of hypocrisy on this issue among my conservative farmer friends. Until e-verify is enforced the idea of being “in compliance” is a joke. Time to come clean on the I-9 loophole for employers. Use e-verify as a door to legal registration. There has been little pressure to improve H-2A up until now because most farmers have benefitted by dismissing the program as unworkable and continuing to hire illegal immigrants. If wages are not fair for American citizens then they are not fair for anyone. We’ve had a double standard when it comes to pay for farmworkers for way too long. Time to stop wrapping ourselves in the righteous-farmer flag and come clean on all this.

    1. WELL FARMER JOE MAYBE IF PEOPLE WHERE WILLING TO PAY HIGHER PRICES FOR THEIR FRESH FRUITS AND VEGGIES THEN FARMERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WOULD BEABLE TO PAY THEIR WORKERS TOP DOLLAR. I AM A FOURTH GENERATION FARMER AND SOME OF THE PRICES THAT WE ARE GETTING TODAY HAVE NOT RISEN WITH INFLATION LIKE OTHER PRODUCTS. INSTEAD OF PUNISHING THE WORKERS THAT ARE HERE UNDOCUMENTED WE SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON FIXING THE PROBLEM THAT DOESNT ALLOW THESE VITAL WORKERS TO MOVE BACK AND FORTH LEAGALY ACROSS OUR BORDERS. I AM TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT FARMERS SHOULD USE AMERICAN WORKERS IN THERE FIELDS, TRY AND FIND ME SOMEONE THAT WANTS TO WORK LONG HOURS IN THE HOT WEAHTER OF HEAT SUMMER MONTHS. WHAT PEOPLE SEEM TO FORGET IS THAT THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT ON THE BACKS OF IMMIGRANTS AND CONTINUES TO BETHE DRIVING FORCE OF OUR COUNTRY.

      1. The healthiest thing for a person’s conscience is honesty. We do not want a culture of dishonesty to to grow or be enabled because of the problems it sets up in people’s lives. Whatever the solution it needs to help people be honest.

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