Yesterday, the Napa County Farm Bureau sent out an email alerting members that it had been informed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) inspections were happening in the area, according to an article this morning in the Napa Valley Register.  Though no specific reports have been made, employers should be on alert and prepared should ICE agents come knocking.

H-2A Labor Recruiters Charged with Fraud and Conspiracy

Yesterday, three men from Southern California were arrested pursuant to a federal grand jury indictment for allegedly participating in an immigration fraud scheme, including illegally charging individuals from Mexico thousands of dollars in exchange for H-2A visas.

Former Fancy Farms Employees Continue Pursuing Recruitment Fee Suit

In November 2015, H-2A employees sued Fancy Farms for failing to include a clause in their contract with All Nations Staffing LLC that barred the staffing company from collecting recruitment fees from the workers. Last year, a judge ruled that the workers had failed to demonstrate that the farm had authorized the staffing company to collect recruitment fees, with a full judgment filed in favor of Fancy Farms in January 2018.

Stricter Visa Screening to Include Social Media Scrutiny

In a Federal Register Notice from March 30, 2018, the State Department requested public comment on its proposal that includes adding several additional questions to the Online Application for Nonimmigrant Visa (Form DS-160). One of these additional questions requires applicants to list any social media accounts they’ve used during the five years preceding the date of the application. The notice says that this information will be collected for “identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards.”

With the escalating tension between the State of California and U.S. immigration enforcement, California employers are expected to walk a very fine line, especially in agriculture. Many employees fear potential arrest and deportation, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents have recently focused more on neighborhoods and work sites due to the restrictions California’s sanctuary policies have placed on cooperation between local and federal law enforcement, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times last Saturday, March 31, 2018.

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