Onsite raids are not the only tactic in ICE’s enforcement toolkit
In a new twist to the I-9 enforcement process, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has ordered audits of the hiring records of hundreds of employers. As of March 29, 2012, ICE had notified 500 businesses “of all sizes and types” to turn over I-9 employment eligibility records.
Apparently, no one industry has been targeted. The stated goal for the inspections is to “determine whether or not the businesses are complying with their employment-eligibility verification requirements”, according to Gillian Christensen, ICE deputy press secretary.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) notes that since January 2009, the Obama administration has audited at least 7,533 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor and imposed approximately $100 million in administrative and criminal fines. The WSJ goes on to note that “the audits are most visible when they hit high-profile fast-food chains, hotels and agricultural concerns. But the inspections have also affected light manufacturers, financial-services firms and the garment industry.” Some AILA attorneys are reporting that their employer clients have been audited more that once.
A major concern of some observers, including key legislators such as California’s Sen. Diane Feinstein, is that increasingly rigorous enforcement through I-9 audits will decimate essential industries that rely on undocumented workers, such as agricultural and farm-dependent jobs.
You can read more about I-9 compliance issues at our website as well as in our other blog postings on this topic.