On April 5, 2018, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a meat-packing plant in Tennessee, pulling almost 100 people off the job and holding them. While a person, regardless of his or her immigration status, has the right to refuse ICE entry into his or her home, he or she has no such right on the job. If a person’s employer grants ICE entry to the business, any immigrant employee inside is at their mercy. The nature of such raids can cause real problems not only for employers, but especially for their undocumented employees.
An Impossible Position
Generally, most undocumented people in the U.S. simply want to work and keep their head down, and as such, they ask few questions when looking for jobs to do. This can and does result in a higher proportion of undocumented immigrants in low-skill jobs or hands-on jobs like farming or factory work, where an employer needs bodies above all else—the rationale is that such jobs are often hard and dangerous work, and an undocumented person has little or no standing to demand increased wages or benefits, so the employer saves money. If someone complains, all the employer needs to do to quash such behavior is to threaten to report the employee to ICE.
Even in states like Illinois where the undocumented do have certain protections on the job, they do not have protection from ICE. Undocumented workers are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the associated Illinois state laws, and they are able to receive some forms of workers’ compensation if injured on the job. However, none of those laws permit undocumented workers to report adverse conditions and specifically remain free of immigration consequences. All the power in such situations rests with the employers.
If Your Workplace is Raided
If your workplace is raided and you are detained, in most cases, this may mean deportation. A person in the U.S. without legal status is absolutely not supposed to work, and doing so is in direct contravention of the country’s immigration law. Being in violation of immigration law makes a person removable, and unless you are able to assert a defense to the charge of removability, you will in many cases be deported without ever seeing a judge.
However, in some cases, you may be able to offer a defense to removability, usually if you have U.S. citizen relatives. You may be able to apply for cancellation of removal if you can show that your deportation would constitute an “exceptional and extremely unusual” hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse, parent, or child. You may also be able to apply for asylum or withholding of removal if you truly fear persecution if returned to your home country. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to assert other defenses. Consulting an attorney is a good first step.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
If you have experienced a workplace raid, time may be of the essence to ensure that you are not summarily deported. Contacting an experienced immigration lawyer is important, to ensure that your rights are protected. The dedicated Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices have been handling these cases for years, and will work hard on yours. Call our office today for a free consultation.
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