The Obama administration is stepping up enforcement efforts against employers in the United States who knowingly hire illegal workers. On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines for immigration agents that shift the focus of work-site enforcement from going after workers to targeting their bosses.
The rules call on agents to conduct "carefully planned criminal investigations" against employers and seek criminal charges as well as fines and other civil penalties.
Officials say agents will continue to arrest undocumented workers as part of an effort to build cases against employers, but they are instructed to get indictments or search warrants before making any arrests.
The new approach signals a shift from that of the previous Bush administration, which conducted widespread raids that led to the arrest and deportation of thousands of illegal workers but few prosecutions of employers. Last year, only 135 of about 6,000 people arrested in workplace immigration raids were employers.