California law protects private workplaces and companies from ICE raids

Feb 13, 2018

The State of California issued an advisory Tuesday to help employers understand a new law aimed at protecting immigrant workers. 

It's called the Immigrant Worker Protection Act and it went into effect back on January 1. It was designed to help employers deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents.

However, there has been confusion on the part of employers about whether the Act forces them to break federal law.

John Kabateck with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, California, says this is a problem.

"I think it actually does put small business owners in a bit of a quandary here, you know," Kabateck said. "Comply with the federal government voluntarily to provide information and be held accountable at the state level, or don't do so and be caught in a pickle with the feds."

Under the law, employers cannot voluntarily grant agents physical access to nonpublic worksites or to private employee records. But, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says the new state requirements pose no legal conflicts.

San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu authored the bill. He says the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, so warrants and subpoenas are required for these types of ICE raids and audit investigations.

"The reason we felt the need to legislate in this area was because President Trump has issued unconstitutional executive orders," Chiu said. "We have anticipated that his ICE agents will also be engaged in activities that do not respect the boundaries of the Constitution."

Last month, Becerra said employers could be fined $10,000 dollars if they didn't comply with the state law.

The Department of Justice will now work with employers to clarify any confusion.