Restaurants were among the 77 businesses in Northern California that were hit with demands from the Department of Homeland Security for proof their employees are documented to work in the U.S., the agency confirmed to local media today.
The notices landed the involved restaurateurs in a legal battle between state and federal authorities. In the wake of the crackdown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reminded businesses in the state that they have new responsibilities under California law to communicate with immigrant employees during a federal I-9 audit.
Newly passed regulations require all employers to post notices of a documentation check by federal agencies within 72 hours of being alerted themselves of the demand for proper work forms. The notifications have to be posted in whatever language is routinely used to communicate with non-U.S.-born employees.
Employers are also required to notify every employee whose documents are questioned by the federal authorities.
The state’s controversial Immigrant Worker Protection Act levies fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 on employers who fail to comply.
California has declared itself a “sanctuary state,” a place where persons born elsewhere are extended certain protections against immigration enforcement rules in place elsewhere. For instance, state law prohibits local police officers from asking people about their immigration status or permitting in federal crackdowns.
The move has put the nation’s largest restaurant market at odds with the Trump administration, which has pledged to enforce immigration regulations more vigorously. Last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided about 100 7-Elevens across the country, arresting 21 people for lacking proper work authorization.
ICE, a part of DHS, revealed at the time that similar crackdowns would follow.
An ICE spokesman confirmed to the Sacramento Bee that restaurants were among the businesses notified this week of the I-9 audit. He did not reveal the identities of the businesses, but did note that no arrests were made.