California's Attorney General hit back against plans by federal immigration officials to conduct a "major sweep" for 1,500 undocumented individuals, telling employers state-wide that they face legal repercutions and fines up to $10,000 if they assist federal authorities. The sweep is in response to California's new "sanctuary city" laws which took effect Jan 1.
“It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know – more specifically today, employers – that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,” said CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra, adding “We will prosecute those who violate the law.”
Becerra's warning follows a report by the San Francisco Chronicle detailing the planned raids which will include worksites believed to be harboring illegal employees. According to The Chronicle, US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be flying officers in from around the country to assist with the raids, according to an unnamed source.
As we wrote yesterday, The sweep would be the largest of its kind under the Trump administration, a source told the Chronicle - and would be the first such operation since California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation enacting statewide "sanctuary" laws last October - vastly limiting who state and local law enforcement agencies can detain, question and transfer at the request of federal authorities. It also forbids police officers from making arrests for civil immigration warrants, as well as joining federal task forces intended to enforce immigration laws.
As far as businesses are concerned, the bill:
▪ Requires employers to ask immigration agents for a warrant before granting access to a worksite.
▪ Prevents employers from voluntarily sharing confidential employee information without a subpoena.
▪ Requires employers to notify their workers before a federal audit of employee records.
▪ Gives the attorney general and labor commissioner exclusive authority to enforce new provisions of state labor laws.
▪ Prohibits employers from re-verifying information on employment verification forms, unless compelled to by federal law.
Acting ICE Director Homan slammed Jerry Brown and the state of California for passing SB54, which he said undermined public safety.
In an appearance earlier this month on Fox News, Homan accused California Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown of placing "politics ahead of public safety," adding that California "better hold on tight," as ICE would "significantly increase" pressure on the state.
“They’re about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers in the state of California,” said Homan.
The operation would go after people who have been identified as targets for deportation, including those who have been served with final deportation orders and those with criminal histories, the source said. The number could tick up if officers come across other undocumented immigrants in the course of their actions and make what are known as collateral arrests. -SF Chronicle
When asked for comment on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was outraged, saying that immigrants "must not be targeted in raids solely because they are Californians," adding that a large-scale enforcement operation would suggest that “the administration is carrying out its enforcement actions to make a political point and not based on the security of the country.”
The new "sanctuary state" law prompted a conservative street artist to add an addition to the iconic "Welcome to California" sign at several state border crossings: