1952- Immigration laws are overhauled to clamp down on communists, a provision outlawing willful transportation , or harboring of undocumented immigrants is debated. One amendment proposes imposing criminal penalties for the employment of undocumented immigrants.
1971- Legislative proposals featuring employer sanctions reappear and are touted as the tool needed to fix undocumented immigration.
1986- The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passes in Congress, prohibiting employers for the first time at the federal level from hiring undocumented workers.
1992- INS signs a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Labor, requiring inspectors to turn over the names of undocumented workers who call them over wage hour violations.
1997- Operation Buttonhole. In Los Angeles, the INS initiated a series of raids against sweatshop workers based on information from Department of Labor Inspectors.
1998- Employers start being flooded with “no match” letters from SSA, in which the agency lists workers whose numbers don’t match it’s database. Many employers view the list as evidence that workers have no legal immigration status.
1999- Operation Vanguard. Announced at a September 1999 meeting in Omaha, Operation Vanguard (originally called Operation Prime Beef) was an INS workplace enforcement strategy designed to remove and exclude undocumented workers from the meatpacking industry in Nebraska and Iowa.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice has published a final rule in the Federal Register increasing civil monetary penalties for violations of laws that the agency is charged with enforcing, including the fines that can be assessed for document fraud under section 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as employer sanctions under section 274A.
2005- The comprehensive immigration reform bills introduced into Congress from 2005 onwards linked guestworker programs to heavy enforcement. They mandated a tighter border to make crossing without papers more difficult, while beefed up employer sanctions that would make it impossible to work without a guest worker visa.
2007- Arizona passes Legal Workers Arizona Act, requiring state employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure that they stop hiring the undocumented.
2008- Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour signs SB 2988, which requires employers to use E-verify and gives them immunity for hiring undocumented workers if they do.
2008-2011- Escalation of “silent raids” (also known as I-9 audits) under the Obama Administration.
2010- I-9 Audit at American Apparel. In May, the company and ICE tell 1200 workers that if they don’t provide new documents that show that they can legally work, they will be fired. Weekly firings in groups of 300 begin in October.
2011- Six hundred workers at the Chipotle fast food chain are fired in Minnesota after I-9 Audit.