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Worksite Enforcement


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Effective worksite enforcement plays an important role in the fight against illegal immigration.
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has developed a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy that promotes national security, protects critical infrastructure and targets employers who violate employment laws or engage in abuse or exploitation of workers.

An effective worksite enforcement strategy must address both employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, as well as the workers themselves. In worksite cases, ICE investigators adhere to high investigative standards, including the following:

  • ICE will look for evidence of the mistreatment of workers, along with evidence of trafficking, smuggling, harboring, visa fraud, identification document fraud, money laundering and other such criminal conduct.
  • ICE will obtain indictments, criminal arrests or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute the targeted employer before arresting employees for civil immigration violations at a worksite.

Critical Infrastructure Protection

On February 12, 2013, Presidential Policy Directive 21 – Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience was issued to advance a national unity of effort to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure. The former Secretary of Homeland Security was directed to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to promote this directive. As the investigative arm for the Department of Homeland Security, ICE prioritizes its criminal investigations on the most egregious violators and concentrates its worksite inspection efforts on employers conducting business in critical infrastructure and national security interest industries/sectors (e.g. chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, emergency services, government facilities, information technology, nuclear reactors materials and waste and transportation systems).

In pursuing this strategy, ICE applies risk assessment principles to critical infrastructure and worksite enforcement cases in order to maximize the impact of investigations against the most significant threats and violators.

Targeting Abusive or Exploitative Employers

Worksite enforcement investigations often involve egregious violations of criminal statutes by employers and widespread abuses. Such cases often involve additional violations such as alien smuggling, alien harboring, document fraud, money laundering, fraud or worker exploitation. ICE also investigates employers who employ force, threats or coercion (for example, threatening to have employees deported) in order to keep the unauthorized alien workers from reporting substandard wage or working conditions.

By uncovering such violations, ICE can send a strong deterrent message to other employers who knowingly employ illegal aliens.

Working with Employers

ICE also works with the private sector to educate employers about their responsibilities to hire only authorized workers and how to accurately verify employment eligibility. (Read more about the ICE IMAGE program.)