The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched its latest crackdown on Form I-9 compliance and the hiring illegal workers by handing a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to approximately 1,000 businesses in the past few weeks, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324755104579071331936331534.html.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – recently announced in a press release that a Houston, Texas-based tree trimming company has avoided criminal prosecution for employing illegal workers by agreeing to forfeit $2 million to the DHS related to revenue derived from the employment of illegal workers. The company has also agreed to adhere to revised immigration compliance procedures that include the use of E-Verify, a free electronic employment eligibility verification system run by the U.S. government. The press release from ICE is available at: http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1205/120518houston.htm. Continue reading
In a new round of inspections to determine if employers in the United States are violating employment laws by hiring unauthorized workers, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – recently issued Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to various employers around the country. The NOIs give businesses notice that ICE will conduct inspections for compliance of Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (Form I-9s) that require employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all newly hired employees. Continue reading
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – has fined 14 New England employers during this fiscal year for various violations that enabled companies to hire illegal workers, according to a news release from ICE. The fines in the New England region, which include two companies in Maine and Massachusetts accounting for over $200,000 of the fine settlements, follow an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents used to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired workers. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
In what may be one of the largest cases of a possible ‘diploma mill’ handled by federal agents, a two-year investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has resulted in the arrest of the President of an alleged ‘sham’ university – Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, California – on charges that include student visa fraud, money laundering, and alien harboring, according to a news release from ICE. Continue reading
Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would make the use of E-Verify – a free, web-based, government run electronic employment eligibility verification system – “permanent and mandatory” for all employers in the United States and also provide for penalties for businesses employing illegal workers not authorized to be employed in the United States. Continue reading
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is cracking down on employers suspected of hiring illegal workers by requiring approximately 1,000 businesses to allow their employment records to be investigated, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives responding to an editorial in the Washington Post wrote that the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system helps employers check the immigration status of workers and maintain a legal workforce, and also that E-Verify can only be used on new hires and not for screening job applicants.
The January 22 Washington Post editorial, ‘The limits of immigration enforcement,’ focused on one of the world’s largest food processing firms that recently received a federal seal of approval for its hiring practices from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after officials from the agency checked employment records for just about every one of the more than 100,000 workers employed by the company. Although roughly a quarter of a million companies have enrolled in E-Verify – which is described as “a federal program that screens potential new hires for employment eligibility” in the 1/22 editorial – most companies seem reluctant to have existing workforces checked since the U.S. labor force contains an estimated 6 to 7 million undocumented immigrants.
The following response appeared in the Washington Post on January 27, in part to support use of E-Verify but also to remind employers that E-Verify can only be used after a job applicant is hired and should not be used as a method of background screening:
Helping employers check workers’ immigration status
Contrary to the Jan. 22 editorial “The limits of immigration enforcement,” the E-Verify federal program is not used on potential hires, as the editorial stated. It can be used only for newly hired employees. In order to prevent discrimination, the Web-based E-Verify program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security, prohibits employers from using E-Verify to screen potential hires. Rather, E-Verify is a tool to confirm that the information given on an I-9 form, which is required for every new employee, is correct.
As a former small-business owner in the restaurant industry, I found it frustrating that employers were expected to hire legal workers but were given no tools to do so. Since employers cannot be expected to be document experts, when I became a member of Congress I created E-Verify as a way to provide employers a simple, free and easy way to check the information provided on the I-9. Fifteen years later, E-Verify has exceeded expectations through the use of biometric data for non-citizens, is 99.6 percent accurate and continues to improve, expand and evolve.
Ken Calvert, Washington
The writer, a California Republican, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Recently, a story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ‘Crackdown on Illegal Workers Grow’ told how ICE had announced that it was cracking down on larger companies that may employ undocumented workers. ICE conducted audits of more than 2,740 companies in the fiscal year 2010, nearly twice as many as the previous fiscal year, and levied a record $7 million in civil fines on businesses employing illegal workers, according to the WSJ.
Because of this, U.S. businesses are getting their employment records, particularly the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (“I-9 form”), in order. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and maintain a legal workforce.
For more information on E-Verify Service from Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.
Trend No. 9: E-Verify and I-9 Audits Help Government Find Employers with Illegal Workers
An October 2010 press release from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics achieved under the Obama administration, which included issuing more financial sanctions on employers who hired unauthorized workers than during the entire previous Bush administration. Since January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the principal investigative arm of DHS – has audited more than 3,200 employers suspected of hiring workers not legally eligible to work in the U.S., debarred 225 companies and individuals, and imposed approximately $50 million in financial sanctions, according to the DHS.
A summary of fines and penalties from ICE reveals that this surge in enforcement of a legal U.S. workforce included a 500 percent increase in penalties from worksite enforcement actions (over $5 million), a nearly two-fold increase in I-9 audits (2,200), a record-breaking 180 criminal prosecutions of employers, and the debarring of more than 97 businesses, compared to 30 last fiscal year, with average fines exceeding $110,000.
Due in large part to increased scrutiny on employers from ICE through I-9 audits – where employee information on Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (“I-9 forms”) is checked for accuracy by Government agents – penalties from worksite enforcement inspections have increased recently. The following statistics from ICE compares Fiscal Year 2010 (October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010) with Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009):
- ICE penalties from worksite enforcement inspections increased to $5,300,000 in FY 2010, up from $1,033,291 in FY 2009.
- ICE criminally charged a record-breaking 180 owners, employers, managers and/or supervisors in FY 2010, up from 135 in FY 2008 and 114 in FY 2009.
- ICE conducted more than 2,200 I-9 audits in FY 2010, up from more than 1,400 in FY 2009.
- ICE debarred 97 business and 49 individuals in FY 2010, up from 30 and 53, respectively, in FY 2009.
These record breaking statistics show that ICE is focusing more on targeting the employers that hire illegal workers through the use of I-9 audits and investigations of their hiring practices. Now more than ever, U.S. employers must regularly review their I-9 compliance practices.
One of the trends that emerged in 2010 and should continue in 2011 is that employers will take steps to ensure they hire a legal workforce by using E-Verify, a free, web-based electronic employment eligibility verification system operated by the U.S. government that enables employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees by comparing data from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 against records in DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. E-Verify is currently being used by more than 230,000 employers at more than 800,000 worksites, according to recent figures from DHS.
Currently, federal contractors and subcontractors in all states must use E-Verify. Many U.S. states have additional state or local E-Verify mandates for either all employers, state agencies, city employees, or have E-Verify legislation pending. A listing of E-Verify requirements can be found on the recently updated (November 22, 2010) online E-Verify State Legislation Map from Tracker Corp available at http://www.esrcheck.com/State-E-Verify-map.php.
Employers may choose to have a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent assist them in maintaining compliance with the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification process. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent – can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. To learn more about E-Verify, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is releasing the ESR Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011 throughout December. This is the Ninth of the Top Ten Trends ESR will be tracking in 2011. To see an updated list of ESR’s ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011, visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Trends-In-Background-Screening-2011.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was also the third background screening company to be ‘Safe Harbor’ certified. For more information, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.