What Just Happened?
During the week of July 16, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) delivered Notice of Inspection (NOI)/audit notices throughout the U.S. And, HSI served 2,738 NOIs and made 32 arrests in one-week.
ICE's Delivery of Notices of Inspection
ICE also announced that since January, 2018, I-9 audit notices were served to more than 5,200 businesses around the U.S. During Phase-1 of the operation - Jan. 29 to March 30, 2018 - HSI served 2,540 NOIs and made 61 arrests. At the present rate, ICE-HSI will reach more than 8,500 NOIs this year! This is over 5,000 audits more than the highest previous amount.
HSI is enforcing its commitment to increase the number of I-9 audits to create a culture of compliance among employers, says the HSI Director. Its worksite enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, by using I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance of the law.
Failure to follow the Immigration Reform & Control Act can result in criminal and civil penalties. In FY17, businesses were ordered to pay $7.8 million in civil fines and $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines and restitution with Asplundh Tree Experts assessed $95 million. This is the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.
In FY 2018 to date, HSI opened 6,093 worksite investigations (I-9 audits) and made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively. In FY 2017, HSI opened 1,716 worksite investigations; initiated 1,360 I-9 audits; and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests related to worksite enforcement.
Preparing for ICE I-9 Audit
Will your company be targeted next? The best way to prepare for an I-9 inspection is having an experienced outsider conduct an I-9 audit. Doing so highlights numerous errors found, and corrects them so that if ICE inspects your I-9 forms, the errors are viewed as minor ... unfortunately since almost every company has I-9 errors, they risk getting penalized.
Also - many if not all of your employees are U.S. citizens - which causes substantive and technical I-9 errors. Employers assume that by using E-Verify they are okay. While E-Verify is excellent in establishing who is authorized to work, you should know that it cannot locate substantive or technical errors on the I-9 forms.
If an ICE I-9 audit occurs, getting a lawyer involved as soon possible is suggested. An attorney can help the company negotiate a few days' extension in responding to the subpoena. They can often get the list of requested documents reduced, as well as helping you prepare to respond in a methodical and logical way.
Being prepared for a NOI/subpoena requires a company to have proper procedures in place 'upon hiring'. The best way to have these procedures in place is to prepare a written Immigration Compliance Policy. This policy ensures that the employees responsible for completing I-9 records on behalf of the company are properly trained to do so. For the novice, it's hard to tell the difference between a green card and a work authorization document issued to a recipient of DACA or TPS, since one represents permanent work authorization that should never be re-verified, and the other requires the employer to re-verify the I-9 form upon the document's expiration.
Tips To Remain I-9 Compliant:
- Be prepared to handle an ICE worksite enforcement action and understand its dynamics;
- Conduct regular internal I-9 audits and training and be able to spot issues and fraudulent documents. Contact our office for assistance in addressing I-9 issues, audits, and developing training programs;
- Review company immigration corporate compliance programs using Sarbanes-Oxley considerations at the worksite, corporate due diligence in mergers and acquisitions, subcontractor liability, and E-Verify.
Combined partner with CalWorkSafety offers detailed guidance on how I-9s are prepared and completed.We assist with reviewing I-9 records and training employees on how to handle the I-9 process properly. For more information send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or CONTACT US HERE