Immigration

Immigration agency to beef up auditing force

Immigration issues have been in the news a lot, as we all know, but one item that might have escaped your attention involves plans by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to beef up its auditors.

The auditors are the ones who help ICE conduct worksite investigations, which were up by more than 300 percent for 2018.

In fact, in 2017, ICE opened 1,691 worksite investigations, a figure that soared in fiscal 2018 to 6,848 investigations. Moreover, over 2,300 people were arrested at their workplace in 2018, more than seven times the number in the year before.

Workplace arrests typically involve violations such as identity fraud.

ICE has quadrupled I-9 audits under the Trump administration. As a result, employers have been ordered to pay $10.2 million in civil penalties for hiring unauthorized workers.

Employers should know there’s more to come. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit is hiring 60 more auditors and intends to conduct more direct outreach to employers, adopt new technology to speed up audits and create a centralized auditing center to streamline the entire process.

The bottom line in all this? Companies are increasingly looking for ways to create a diverse, skilled workforce. But with today’s complex immigration and labor laws, employers have to be careful to avoid violating laws at all stages of the employer/employee relationship.

Apprentice Personnel takes the responsibility of hiring and sending out authorized workers, including U.S. and foreign citizens, very seriously. Following the rules without engaging in unlawful discriminatory practices is a priority for us. Our job is to take the burden off the employer, make sure the proper paperwork is done and workers are qualified.

Those regulations mandate that employers examine certain documents from workers and complete a Form I-9. A valid Social Security card, a birth certificate, a foreign passport, a U.S. passport and permanent or temporary resident cards are some of the documents that a staffing agency is looking for when a potential employee comes in to seek work.

Once we have this information, we enter it into E-Verify, which is a free, Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security. The data provided by the worker is checked electronically against records contained in DHS and other government databases.

From time to time, documents that are acceptable to comply with the Form I-9 are changed or new rules are issued. Apprentice Personnel closely monitors the system for these revisions and ensures proper procedures are followed.

Finding a staffing agency that’s professional and understands the laws has become absolutely essential for success and longevity in today’s tough economy.