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.

Federal agents will reportedly visit targeted companies within the week to serve notice of required documents including Employment Eligibility Verification forms known as ‘I-9 forms’ used to verify the identity of employees and their eligibility to work in the U.S. WSJ reports the government should make news of the audits public in the next few days.

While ICE is not expected to name the companies undergoing so-called ‘I-9 Audits,’ the WSJ reports industries that “rely heavily on low-skilled workers” and thus are “most vulnerable to enforcement actions” include agriculture, food services, and hospitality. In 2010, ICE audits included a popular burrito chain, an apple grower, and clothing makers.

In a related story, House Republicans are pushing for mandatory use of E-Verify – a free, web-based, government-run electronic verification system that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of new hires by checking information on I-9 forms with DHS, State Department, and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases, the WSJ reports.

E-Verify, which began as a pilot program in 1997, is used either voluntarily or as a requirement for doing business with the U.S. government by approximately 11 percent of the nation’s 7.7 million employers, according to the WSJ. Federal contractors, all employers in Arizona, Mississippi, and South Carolina, and government agencies and public contractors in about a dozen other states must use E-Verify.

For more information about E-Verify and I-9 Form Compliance, visit

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®) . ESR is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that helps employers maintain I-9 Form compliance and a legal workforce. To learn more about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected].