To avoid potential conflict, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning their respective civil worksite enforcement activities. Under the March 31, 2011, MOU, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed that, unless determined necessary by the Director of ICE, Secretary of Homeland Security or an Officer of the DOL, it would refrain from engaging in civil worksite enforcement at a worksite if there is an existing DOL investigation of a labor dispute. The MOU specifically states that ICE and DOL agree to create a means by which they will exchange information from their respective investigations.
The DOL’s enforcement activities are to ensure proper wages and working conditions for all workers regardless of their immigration status. DHS enforces immigration laws to ensure that all workers are authorized to work.
It is unclear how the MOU will be implemented by a prospective joint Worksite Enforcement Coordination Committee. What is clear is that there will be information sharing between the DOL and DHS/ICE. While they generally will not conduct joint or coordinated civil worksite enforcement, ICE is not restricted from investigating after a DOL investigation is completed.
The U.S. government has become increasingly active in enforcing immigration compliance against corporate employers in recent years. Thus, it is critical for employers to ensure their policies and practices are in compliance with laws and regulations enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and ICE.