SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has denied repeated requests by federal immigration authorities for direct access to an employment-records database, the state’s top labor official said Thursday.
State Workforce Solutions Department Secretary Bill McCamley said he twice notified officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement this month that the state won’t provide direct access to an unemployment database with extensive records about employees and employers throughout the state.
McCamley, an appointee of first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, says the state will consider requests by federal immigration authorities for specific information about employers that include an explanation and justification.
“What ICE wanted was unlimited direct access to all employer data in the state and we’re not going to do that,” he said.
On Wednesday, ICE officials in Mississippi conducted the largest immigration raid in a decade as agents fanned out to poultry plants and arrested nearly 700 people.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press shows that an ICE investigative assistant based in El Paso, Texas, told several state workforce officials that access to a state employment database was needed to quickly fulfill requests by case agents. The ICE investigator sent emails to several state officials, observing that she already has access to a Texas Workforce Commission database.
An ICE spokeswoman had no immediate comment, and the investigative assistant did not return calls.
A spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission said access to that state’s data is limited and meant for assisting in criminal investigations and some other law enforcement purposes. The data includes information related to wage records, unemployment benefits and some employer information.
On Thursday, McCamley also expressed broader misgivings about ICE workplace enforcement tactics.
“We all know why ICE wants this data — you saw it yesterday in Mississippi when ICE ripped a bunch of people away from their children on the first day of school,” he said.