Deputizing Employers: ICE’s New Angle

I’ve been pondering the quagmire in which ICE’s enforcement actions placed Pilgrim’s Pride recently.  Imagine this scenario:

You are a corporate compliance manager/counsel/etc. and the phone rings.  A person claiming to be from ICE advises you that your company is going to be subjected to an I-9 audit and you have 3 days to get it together.  Oh, and by the way, “the extent of your cooperation will determine what sanctions will be determined if anything is non-compliant.”

To those of us who live this stuff everyday, that last sentence is translated as roughly “do what we say or you can go to jail.”  Given the fact that there probably isn’t a company in the U.S. which is 100% compliant, things get scary.  Suddenly, it isn’t the company and government sorting out discrepencies to insure enforcement; instead, it’s your employees’ hides vs. your own, and jail time wasn’t part of the plan for you.  This is from the press release issued by Pilgrim’s Pride after the recent raid:

“Pilgrim’s Pride cooperated fully with ICE and the U.S. Attorney’s office to help them apprehend these individuals. In fact, it was Pilgrim’s Pride that uncovered the identity theft situation in Batesville and notified the federal government, and we worked closely with them to identify those individuals who were apprehended at the Batesville site.”

Think about this, Folks:  we are at a point now where employers are not only mandated to cooperate with authorities to save us from unauthorized chicken pluckers, but we have to help round them up for ICE.

This stinks of something which is not what I believe to be democracy, and as an American who loves the Constitution passionately, it really, really bothers me.