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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

In late July 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – a federal agency under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that enforces laws governing border control – announced the results of a two-phase nationwide operation that served Form I-9 audit notices to more than 5,200 businesses in the United States since January, according to a news release from ICE.

From July 16 to July 20, 2018, the second phase of the operation, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served 2,738 notices of inspection (NOIs) – which inform businesses that ICE will audit their hiring records to determine if they are complying with existing law – and made 32 arrests. During the first phase of the operation, from January 29 to March 30, 2018, HSI served 2,540 NOIs and made 61 arrests.

“This is not a victimless crime. Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can significantly impact the identity theft victim’s credit, medical records, and other aspects of their everyday life,” Derek N. Benner, Acting Executive Associate Director for HIS, stated in the news release from ICE, adding that HSI is carrying out its commitment to increase the number of I-9 audits.

ICE is the federal agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which requires all employers in the United States to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire through the use of the ‘Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.’ ICE uses the Form I-9 inspection program and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.

After receiving the NOIs, employers must produce their company’s I-9s within three business days, after which ICE conducts an I-9 inspection for compliance. Employers not in compliance with the law can face civil fines and possible criminal prosecution if they knowingly violated the law. Unauthorized workers encountered during these audits are subject to administrative arrest and removal from the country.

From October 1, 2017, through July 20, 2018, HSI opened 6,093 worksite investigations and made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests. In FY17, businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines, and restitution, and $7.8 million in civil fines, including one company whose financial penalties represented the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.

In May 2018, ICE announced that HSI had already doubled the amount of ongoing worksite enforcement investigation cases in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 compared to FY 2017. ICE reported that from the beginning of FY 2018 on October 1, 2017, through May 4, 2018, HSI opened 3,510 worksite investigations. For FY 2017 – lasting from October 2016 through September 2017 – HSI opened 1,716 worksite investigations.

Is Your Company Ready for an ICE Form I-9 Audit?

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – provides a robust Form I-9 and E-Verify solution that simplifies the employment eligibility verification process and enables employers to compliantly verify work status and electronically capture and retain required Form I-9 information. To learn more, please visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Form-I-9-E-Verify/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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