What To Do When The ICE-Man Cometh

Author: Trina Clayton

Less than a month after federal immigration officials raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted another sweep at the end of January – searching 77 businesses in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas in what was believed to be the largest localized raid since President Donald Trump took office.  What’s more, it doesn’t look like this will be the end of the ICE raids.  ICE acting director Thomas Homan has made a call for a “400 percent increase” in agency operations focusing on workplaces and, specifically, workplaces in California.  In light of this governmental shift, what, exactly, is an employer supposed to do when ICE comes to call?

Fortunately, California employers have been provided slightly firmer ground on which to stand, based, in large part, by a recent law which went into effect January 1, 2018 – the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450).

AB 450’s provisions include the following:

  • Employers cannot give federal immigration enforcement agents access to non-public areas of a business without a judicial warrant.
  • Employers cannot provide the enforcement agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant.  (NOTE* This provision does not apply to Form I-9 or other documents for which a Notice of Inspection was provided to the employer.)


As a practical matter, for any of the above-described, non-noticed “raids”, a California employer’s voluntary consent to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers is now limited by State law.

  • If ICE agents do show up at your place of employment, employers should ask to see the warrant or subpoena. Do not admit the agent to enter any nonpublic areas or view employee records without such a document, signed by a judge.
  • Then, make sure to review the scope of the warrant or subpoena, and only permit the agents to view the places or documents described therein.
  • It is important for employers to train any employees who interact with visitors upon entry, on how to respond if an immigration enforcement agent shows up.


AB 450 provides additional instruction for how to respond to Form I-9 or other inspections for which a Notice of Inspection was provided to the employer.  This topic will be covered in a subsequent blog post.

For specific legal advice regarding employment matters, please contact Ad Astra for guidance.


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