This week, 77 businesses in Northern California have been raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. No arrests have been made. The raids, focused in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas, are being seen as the largest localized sweep of businesses from the agency since President Trump took office.
According to SFGate, ICE agents demanded proof of the legality of employees of the businesses.
Thomas Homan, ICE's acting director, has called for a “400 percent increase” in similar operations.
The businesses that faced the raids have not been named.
“Serving 77 notices of inspection on different employers in the last three days within a single area of responsibility, in this case, San Francisco, appears unprecedented,” said Angelo Paparelli, an immigration attorney in Los Angeles.
According to ICE spokesperson James Schwab, the raids are “focused on protecting jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthening public safety and national security.”
The raids are emblematic of the growing battle between ICE and the state of California and various cities in it, which have been called "sanctuaries" due to concerted legal efforts to protect undocumented residents with no criminal history from persecution.
“We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes," Homan said in December.
"California better hold on tight," he added in January. "They're about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers in the state of California. If the politicians in California don't want to protect their communities, then ICE will."
Law experts wonder if the recent wave of busts and attempted busts represent a retaliatory effort on the part of ICE: The raids could be considered a “retributive move by ICE to punish California and the Bay Area for their decision to not cooperate with other federal enforcement efforts," according to Pratheepan Gulasekaram, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
Businesses face serious fines if they are found to have employed people in violation of the country's immigration laws. Undocumented workers (even those with no criminal history) face potential deportation.
[Photo: Getty Images]