SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Federal immigration agents launched their much anticipated crackdown on Northern California businesses this week, serving them with three-day notices demanding they produce proof their employees are legally allowed to work in the United States.
While no immediate arrests were reported, fears mounted that ICE agents would unleashed a series of raids similar to the ones that targeted 7-Eleven stores in early January. Agents swept into 98 stores nationwide with 21 suspected undocumented employees detained.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier was critical of the raids, claiming President Donald Trump had drawn a bulls-eye on California over it’s sanctuary state and widespread sanctuary city policies.
“I think these ICE raids are targeted at California companies in particular because we’re a blue state,” she said. “I hate to say that. But I think there is a fair amount of penalty we’re paying. And the president wants to make an example of California.”
Deputy Santa Clara County Executive David Campos, a former San Francisco Supervisor, agrees.
“We believe the federal government has declared war on immigrants,” he told KPIX 5. “We are getting ready to protect our residents.”
ICE officials released a statement saying – “The actions taken this week reflect Homeland Security’s investigations stepped up efforts…to enforce laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal workers.”
The businesses were located in the Bay Area and Sacramento. ICE spokesman James Schwab did not release the names of the businesses targeted, but told the Sacramento Bee they did include restaurants and a “range of businesses mostly unrelated to each other.”
The raids present a dilemma for business owners. They come just a week after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned businesses about a new state law protecting worker privacy if confronted with ICE demands for records or access.
The Immigrant Worker Protection Act requires that employers post notices about the federal demand for records within 72 hours of being served. Any unions covering employees also need to be notified.
“Be aware of this new law because ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Becerra said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee.