Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will halt mass raids on workplaces that employ undocumented immigrants, according to an order by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released Tuesday.

Mayorkas said the deployment of mass worksite operations has not always focused on employers that exploit undocumented workers, which he described as “the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge,” in a memorandum shared Tuesday.

Under the Trump administration, ICE carried out multiple raids on workplaces including one in 2019 that saw ICE agents arrest approximately 680 people at seven worksites in Mississippi.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said the “resource-intensive operations” also were used as a tool by exploitative employers to “suppress and retaliate against workers’ assertion of labor laws.”

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Mayorkas said the agency “has a critical role to ensure our nation’s workplaces comply with our laws.”

“We will not tolerate unscrupulous employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions,” he said. “Employers engaged in illegal acts compel the focus of our enforcement resources.”

Mayorkas also directed the agency to adopt policies and practices that will encourage workers to report violations of exploitative employers and cooperate in investigations related to employment and labor standards.

“By adopting policies that focus on the most unscrupulous employers, we will protect workers as well as legitimate American businesses,” he said.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., praised the administration’s decision in a tweet on Tuesday.

“I applaud [DHS]’s decisive action to realign worksite immigration enforcement priorities to improve workplace protections for undocumented workers, cease large worksite deportation raids and focus on prosecuting unscrupulous employers who take advantage of undocumented workers,” he wrote.

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