You may recall President Donald Trump issuing his first set of immigration orders and announcing enforcement as the orders’ primary purpose. “The Presidential Order on Buy American and Hire American” made specific plans to increase workplace enforcement. The Acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan, confirmed ICE’s stance on workplace enforcement. You can see his speech here. If you don’t have an hour and a half to spare, the most salient points of Homan’s speech included:
- ICE has already increased the number of inspections and worksite operations
- A further significant increase in these activities is a plan for the next fiscal year
- The time spent on enforcement will rise by four or five times
- ICE will not only prosecute employers who hire illegal workers but also detain and remove illegal workers
Guess what? ICE is making good on its promise. As of earlier this year, ICE has served more over 5,000 audit notices to business owners across the country. Since the beginning of ICE’s fiscal year (October) , it has initiated over 60 investigations. These investigations have resulted in approximately 675 criminal arrests and 1,000 administrative arrests.
Derek Benner, Acting Director of Homeland Security Investigations recently stated:
“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law. Worksite enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminates unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen[s] public safety and national security.”
The mandate is clear, friends. And the penalties are great. Fines for paperwork violations range from $216 to $2,156 per form. If an employer is found to have employed an unauthorized worker, it will be fined up to $16,000 per count and face criminal exposure.
Now is the time to make sure you are in compliance! Hiring an attorney to review evaluate your I-9 form practices will assist you in avoiding potential fines and even possible criminal exposure.
About the Author: Alejandro Pérez is a partner at Jaburg Wilk. Fully bilingual, Alejandro assists employers of all sizes with labor and employment law issues. In addition to representing clients in litigation, Alejandro provides advice and counsel on HR decisions; conducts sensitive workplace investigations; drafts and reviews employment policies, handbooks, and agreements; and trains workforces on a variety of aspects of employment law.
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