Immigration and Customs Enforcement is putting employers on notice that it will increase Form I-9 audits, conduct more worksite raids and push them to sign up for the government’s voluntary compliance program.
ICE has warned that it will quadruple the number of worksite inspections in the coming year, consistent with President Trump’s pre-election platform and post-election agenda regarding immigration reform.
In fact, raids are already up and immigration experts have been warning employers to expect more worksite enforcement actions under the Trump administration.
Last month, federal immigration agents stormed into nearly 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide in an unprecedented search for undocumented workers.
Last year, ICE audited 1,360 organizations, resulting in 71 indictments and 55 convictions of business owners and managers. The civil penalties for knowingly hiring unauthorized immigrants can range from $539 to $21,563. Not surprisingly, repeat offenders and companies hiring a larger number of undocumented employees receive fines on the higher end of the range.
Then there are the penalties for Form I-9 paperwork violations — ranging from $216 to $2,156 per worker.
The best way for employers to avoid potential fines is, of course, to make sure they are complying with their I-9 obligations — before they get audited.
We suggest employers review their current policies and procedures for compliance; compare I-9 forms with payroll records to ensure there is a completed form for each employee and make sure hard-copy I-9 forms are kept in a separate file from employees’ personnel files.
ICE is also promoting its ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) voluntary compliance program.
This allows private businesses and other organizations to be certified by the agency for complying with the law.
About the Author
Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.