ICE Update: Undocumented Worker Raids Increase

09 Aug, 2018 Phil Yacuboski

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) - In the sleepy town of Mount Pleasant, IA, back in May, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided 32 undocumented workers in a sweep at a concrete facility.

“Only a few had a felony charge against them,” said Rev. Trey Hegar, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, who has been working with the families of those affected. “I do suspect there will be some legal briefs filed about the way the raid happened,” he said. “We don’t know if workers’ comp issues are involved. The families have told me that none of them have gone after the company for workers’ comp benefits.”

ICE does not provide state-by-state data regarding arrests.

Undocumented workers hurt on the job in Iowa are entitled to workers’ comp benefits, but attorneys told WorkersCompensation.com that they fear there “could be a change coming,” citing a concurrence written by two justices in a recent case who wrote that they might make it clear that they would put parameters on how they would look at permanent benefits, but they wouldn’t restrict healing period benefits.

“We ought to be paying attention to immigration laws, but they (meaning employers) ought to be paying attention to them when they are hiring people,” said David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings.

In 2014, the Florida Insurance Fraud Division arrested 105 workers for workers’ comp fraud who worked at a fruit plant in Naples. The workers were caught because employees were using multiple Social Security Numbers, according to court papers.

“I can’t say that raids are an irrational fear,” Judge Langham said, “because when they go to the doctor, all of that data gets put into the computers and those computers at the doctor’s office and they are going to communication with the insurance offices and workers’ comp offices.” 

Benefits can be denied in states like Florida and Massachusetts, if false documentation is used in a workers’ comp claim; but in other states, it’s not an issue. 

In California, Assembly member David Chiu introduced a bill, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, that would demand a federal warrant if ICE shows up to a business and must give 72 hours notice to inspect employment records. California has declared itself a “sanctuary state,” giving protections to undocumented workers and refusing to cooperate with authorities. However, earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued over the legislation.

“As the civil rights of immigrants and their children are violated every day by the Trump Administration, California will not stand idly by,” Chiu said in a statement. “We will continue to fight.”

The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) said in a June report that while ICE tactics were “identical” under both the Trump and Obama Administrations, they have become “more aggressive” under Trump. 

IDP said in its report that in New York alone, ICE arrests were up 61 percent in the first 14 months of the Trump Administration as compared to the last 14 months of the Obama Administration.

But overall, the Obama Administration still exceeds arrests, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan data group housed at Syracuse University. The data showed the Trump Administration is going after more long-time residents in the “interior of the country,” according to a mid-summer report. 

“It’s a small town,” Heger said. “One of those arrested coaches little league and another has been here for 14 years. The rhetoric is way ‘trumped’ up with Trump.”


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    About The Author

    • Phil Yacuboski

      Phil Yacuboski is a freelance writer based in Maryland. He writes about business, healthcare and technology. In his spare time, Phil enjoys the outdoors and photography.

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