On March 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act (Assembly Bill 450), among other laws designed to limit the extent state law enforcement and prisons may cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The DOJ’s lawsuit requests injunctive relief against California, and argues that the Immigrant Worker Protection Act and other California laws violate the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
The Immigrant Worker Protection Act became effective on January 1, 2018. This law prohibits employers from giving ICE—and other immigration agencies—permission to enter private areas of a workplace and from obtaining some types of documents without a judicial warrant. The law also requires employers to provide notice to employees and their authorized representative of immigration agency audits, such as an ICE Form I-9 audit. Although the law places restrictions on an employer’s ability to cooperate with an ICE request, forcing ICE to obtain judicial warrants, it still allows ICE to conduct Form I-9 inspections by issuing an administrative Notice of Inspection.
California has not yet answered the DOJ’s Complaint. We will watch as this suit develops as it will have significant implications for how employers should respond to federal immigration agencies in California.