Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately stop any mass worksite deportation raids in what is the latest limit placed on ICE’s deportation powers.
“The deployment of mass worksite operations, sometimes resulting in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, was not focused on the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge: exploitative employers,” Mayorkas said in a memo to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.
“These highly visible operations misallocated enforcement resources while chilling, and even serving as a retaliation for, worker cooperation in workplace standards investigations,” he said.
The use of worksite raids to detain and potentially deport illegal immigrants working there became a more regular practice during the Trump administration. The most notable raid was the arrest of nearly 700 illegal aliens at food processing plants in Mississippi in 2019 — in what became the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in U.S. history.
However, the Biden administration has dramatically narrowed ICE’s scope for enforcement, including rules that limit ICE officers to focusing on recent border crossers, aggravated felons and national security threats. That guidance coincided with a significant drop in arrests and deportations. Critics have accused the Biden administration of gutting ICE as part of a broader, more lax approach to illegal immigration that has encouraged an enormous migrant surge at the southern border.