Alert – ICE Will Increase Enforcement Against EmployersPublished: Thursday, October 19, 2017
According to a CNN report, while speaking at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tom Homan told the group that he had instructed the investigative unit of ICE, called the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), to greatly increase enforcement, not only against undocumented workers, but also against their employers. Specifically, he asked HSI to calculate how much of their time is currently spent on work site enforcement, then to increase that amount by four to five times the current level. The goal of such enforcement, according to Mr. Homan, is to remove the “magnet” drawing people to enter the U.S. illegally.
Mr. Homan when on to say that not only would ICE prosecute employers that hire illegal workers, but it will also detain and remove those illegal alien workers. Specifically, he stated that ICE will “no longer … turn our head. We’ll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien… but we’re always going to arrest a person who is here illegally. That is our job.”
This appears to be a new policy by ICE, as the prior administration’s top priority had been investigations involving national security, public safety, infrastructure or key resources. It had also prioritized the use of criminal prosecutions against: a) employers that used unauthorized workers as part of its business model, b) employers that mistreated their workers, c) employers that engaged in human smuggling or trafficking, and d) employers who had engaged in identity and benefits fraud, laundered money, or participated in other criminal activities.
One way ICE investigates whether employers are complying with immigration laws, other than through tips received or through the targeting of certain employers for inspection, is through their inspection of employers’ I-9 forms, payroll records, and public access files. If an employer fails to provide these documents when requested, or if there are obvious mistakes or missing supporting documentation, ICE may use this failure as presumptive evidence of wrongdoing and will investigate further. Fines and criminal enforcement, potentially leading to imprisonment for willful violations of the law, are possible.
For this reason, it is very important for all employers to conduct regular internal audits of their employee-related documents and forms. Audits of this type are usually best handled by outside firms in order to ensure impartiality, as well as to show good will on the part of the employer that they are doing everything they can to be in compliance. The most common types of employer audits involve form I-9 audits, followed by Public Access File audits.
Please contact our office if you have any questions or if you would like help with auditing your company’s internal records. We can be contacted here or call our office at (847) 763-8500.