As reported in the Wall Street Journal article “More ‘Silent Raids’ Over Immigration,” the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – has issued 1,000 new I-9 inspection notices in June 2011 to companies in all 50 United States as part of the government’s “quiet immigration raid” policy to crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants. This new round of I-9 inspections brings the number of companies audited by ICE in the fiscal year that began October 1, 2010 to 2,338, topping the previous year’s record of 2,196.
Employers undergoing I-9 audits must hand over all Employment Eligibility Verification Forms – called “Form I-9” – which contain Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and statements by employees of their citizenship status for ICE to inspect. The I-9 audits may result in the firing of illegal immigrants found on a company’s payroll and civil and criminal penalties for employers ranging from fines and being barred from competing for government contracts to criminal charges of knowingly employing illegal workers, evading taxes, and engaging in identity theft, the Wall Street Journal reports.
While not identifying which specific U.S. companies were being audited, ICE officials said in a statement the inspections would “touch on employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation, with an emphasis on businesses related to critical infrastructure and key resources” and could include companies involved with banking and finance, commercial nuclear reactors, dams, drinking water and water treatment systems, government facilities, information technology, telecommunications and transportation systems.
The new round of I-9 audits occur in the same month as the introduction of new legislation involving use of the federal government’s E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system. House Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith (R – Texas) recently introduced the ‘Legal Workforce Act of 2011’ (H.R. 2164) in the House of Representatives which would make use of E-Verify mandatory for all U.S. employers in order to ensure that all newly hired employees are legally eligible to work in the country.
E-Verify allows employers to electronically verify that newly-hired employees are legally authorized to work in the United States by checking Social Security numbers of new hires against Social Security Administration (SSA) and DHS records in order to eliminate fraudulent numbers and ensure that new hires are genuinely eligible to work. An E-Verify Employer Agent such as Employment Screening Resources (ESR) can assist employers with E-Verify compliance and help them avoid government I-9 audits and penalties for non-compliance.
About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.