According to a memo recently discovered by Republicans, acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, who President Biden has nominated, had told her staff they must refuse to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in their search for unauthorized immigrants. Su previously served as the chair of the California Labor Commission.
At her appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month, Su was asked about the document and said that she had not seen it and could not recall its contents.
Commissioner Stewart Knox of the California Department of Labor and Workforce Development provided the document to Republican senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
From the memo: Workers at the Labor Commissioner’s office shouldn’t knowingly let a federal immigration agent into the building. Employees should advise the agent that the Labor Commissioner does not permit them to enter or examine any office section, including the waiting area. Doors that lead to the inner office suite and typically closed or locked office doors should not be voluntarily opened for an agent.
The memo advised employees to request a search warrant from ICE authorities if they refused to leave.
The office must notify the Labor Commissioner’s Attorneys if an agent presents a warrant. Suppose the agent claims they don’t have a warrant. In that case, employees are instructed to politely ask the agent to leave the building, including the waiting area, and to explain that the Labor Commissioner does not authorize the agent’s access to or search any office area.
The memo also required employees to keep records of their communications with federal immigration officials. It instructed them to withhold information to help ICE investigators track their target.
Prompted by news of ICE arrests at educational institutions, homeless shelters, and other public places, the text was distributed to California Labor staff in July 2017.
Employees may have also been informed that ICE had visited or called one of their workplaces inquiring about a specific employee, most likely as a form of unlawful retaliation on the employer’s part.
After passing out of committee on a party-line vote, Su’s candidacy looks to have met a wall. Some are undecided about whether to confirm her role as Labor Secretary. The timing of a full Senate vote is currently unknown.
Senators against Su’s candidacy point to billions of dollars in damages due to widespread unemployment fraud in California during her tenure and a labor position that corporate advocacy groups have criticized.
The Biden administration sees Su as a leader who will carry on Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s pro-worker, pro-union policies.
There has been no response to the memo from the White House.