John Morton, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for ICE, recently spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security regarding the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget for ICE and operational priorities. In his speech, Mr. Morton emphasized that ICE is committed to worksite enforcement, and that he would continue to promote both criminal investigation of employers and the use of administrative tools such as Form I-9 audits and the imposition of “meaningful civil fines” as a deterrent. An April 2009 Fact sheet cited more than 5,100 administrative arrests in FY2008 for immigration violations, which represents a 30% increase over the previous year. ICE has also increased criminal arrests for owners, managers, supervisors, and HR employees who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Mr. Morton also advocates E-Verify as a “valuable compliance tool” and promises to proactively partner with the private sector to train employers who want to avoid unwitting violations of the law. In a separate speech before an international employer group, Mr. Morton recognized that E-Verify’s 3% error rate could be improved, but insisted that it’s still a good working model and the best tool the government has at its disposal right now.