By Elena Shore
SAN FRANCISCO – If immigration agents show up at a worksite, employers don’t have to let them in.
That is one of the key messages immigrant rights advocates are sending out as a new bill that would increase protections for workers makes its way through committees in the California legislature.
Employers across the country already have certain rights, said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC). “If an employer has ICE agents coming to their workplace, so long as the workplace is private property, they should also keep ICE agents out…unless they have an ICE warrant,” she said.
Ruiz spoke on a national press call this week hosted by New America Media and Ready California.
Proposed legislation in California would go a step further in protecting workers and helping employers navigate what happens when ICE agents show up at their business.
Under the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, AB 450 (David Chiu, D-San Francisco), employers would be required to ask for a warrant before they allow immigration enforcement agents onto the worksite. They would not be able to hand over any private information about workers, such as social security numbers, without a subpoena.
“We might not, in the state of California, be able to tell ICE what to do,” said Michael Young, legislative advocate with the California Labor Federation which, together with SEIU California, sponsored AB 450. “We can’t regulate federal immigration law. But we can regulate employer behavior. We can say that employers have an obligation to protect their workers and they have to take certain actions to make sure those rights are protected.”
Nearly 2.6 million undocumented immigrants live in California, and one in 10 workers in the state is undocumented, according to Young.
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