The enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, aptly named the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), recently publicized that they will issue a new batch of I-9 inspection notices to as many as 1,000 businesses located throughout the United States.
So, why is this important?
As initially reported by the Wall Street Journal, this announcement is yet another example of what people are calling the Obama administration’s “quiet immigration raid” policy. Instead of the high-profile immigration raids of years past, ICE has been focusing less on rounding up illegal workers and more on targeting unscrupulous employers through the use of Form I-9 audits and investigations of their hiring practices. Last month ICE announced the establishment of a new employment compliance inspection center and it appears they plan on putting these new resources to work. You can read the full WSJ article here.
As we previously reported, ICE released a worksite enforcement memo which details the most common reasons why a company might receive an audit, as well as who can be targeted. Frequently, ICE investigates companies based upon an employee or public whistleblower complaint.
Although ICE declined to name specific companies to be included in this rounds of audits, according to their statement, “The inspections will touch on employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation – no one industry is being targeted nor is any one industry immune from scrutiny.”
So how can you best prepare for a potential ICE audit?
First, companies should consider conducting a preemptive internal audit to get your I-9 house in order. Then analyze your results, initiate targeted training, and standardize your I-9 practices and procedures.
As you will probably find out, the paper Form I-9 process is error-prone and hard to centralize. Therefore, after conducting the internal audit you will want to implement a trustworthy electronic management system to keep track of all the I-9 documents, deadlines, and work visa reverification requirements.
These steps are especially important for companies that have a large number of employees, high turnover rates, and/or multiple worksites. Of course, employers should always consider the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.
Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should not act upon it without consulting legal counsel as individual situations and facts may vary.