Immigration is a hot-button topic these days and has been for more than a decade now. Of course, in the United States, the issue of immigration – or more specifically, illegal immigration – rises to the forefront of the national conversation every generation or so. As Americans, we’ve had a long, tumultuous relationship with immigration, and that will continue as this nation continues to prosper and retain freedom for its citizens.
Immigration and business have been strange bedfellows for eons. Immoral, and often illegal, slave labor gave way to migrant labor, which found whole generations of immigrants adopting new nationalities and cultural identities. You might argue this nation’s Manifest Destiny would have never come true without ardent immigration. Even in this day and age, migrant work is necessary not just to do work others deem beneath them but to replace an aging workforce.
In Texas, we have a long history with immigration and a migrant workforce. While some in Austin and Washington, D.C., continue to spar over sanctuary cities and how best to address the issue of illegal immigration, others have turned a blind eye to the plight of undocumented workers and leave most of the business accountability to the companies and owners. But as the White House continues to rally a new wall at our southern border and clamp down on those living outside the system, more and more business owners need to be aware of how they can protect themselves, their employees, and their business.
Whether you’re a small business owner who manages day labor for on-site work or an executive who recruits bright minds from overseas, here are some basic things to keep in mind:
Keep Accurate Records
As the saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense.” In business, that means putting in the work upfront to be meticulous, keep detailed records, dot those ‘i’s and cross those ‘t’s. As an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure employee records are up to date. Some companies take advantage of the government’s E-Verify system to confirm an employee’s authorization to work in the U.S. It’s not foolproof but it can be a helpful tool in ensuring your hiring process is compliant. Do everything you can to validate employee identification and work documents.
Ask for a Warrant
In some states, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have stepped up the number of raids they are conducting on certain businesses. It is imperative you know your rights as a business owner and as a U.S. citizen. Do not release any information about your business or your employees unless law enforcement presents a warrant. The Immigration Reform and Control Act “makes it illegal for anyone to employ an illegal alien” or undocumented worker. The penalty for business owners who do so may be forfeiture of assets, fines, or even jail time.
Call Your Attorney
Even if presented with a valid warrant, it’s a good idea to call your attorney. A lawyer who is experienced with business law and immigration law can guide you through the legal process and make sure you and your business interests are protected. Having an attorney review your current hiring process and employee records could keep you from getting into hot water down the road.
The issues surrounding immigration aren’t likely to subside any time soon, and as you can see, today’s business has strong ties to these issues. If you have questions about how your business might be affected with ongoing changes or upcoming legislation, schedule an appointment and we can discuss how Parvin Law Group can be a strong advocate for your business and your employees.
ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Partner of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, and Business Law.