June 17, 2011
On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security launched a wide-scale audit of employers’ hiring records to assess compliance with employment eligibility verification laws. For the second time this year, Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Office delivered Notices of Inspection to 1,000 employers advising that ICE will audit those employers’ I-9 Forms. In addition, as part of the audits, ICE will also review employers’ payroll records, lists of employees and former employees, articles of incorporation, and other employment-related documents.
In announcing this latest round of audits, ICE indicated that it is “targeting” certain industries that have a role in the nation’s “critical infrastructure and key resources.” These industries include food production, information technology, health care, transportation, financial services and construction. The inspections are not limited to large employer, but according to ICE will target “employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation.”
March 4, 2010
On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it was expanding its worksite enforcement strategy in the Southeastern United States. As part of this strategy, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the agency within DHS directly responsible for worksite enforcement, indicated that it is issuing Notices of Inspections (“NOIs”) to 180 businesses in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. These NOIs alert the businesses that ICE will be inspecting their Form I-9s and seeking to review voluminous other business records, including a list of current and terminated employees with hire and termination dates; the names, social security numbers and dates of birth of all active employees; quarterly wage and hour reports and/or payroll data on all employees covering the period of inspection; quarterly tax statements; all correspondence with the Social Security Administration (including “No-Match” letters); and more! All of this is an effort by ICE to determine whether the businesses are complying with federal employment eligibility verification laws and regulations.
This DHS announcement is the latest in a series of expanding worksite enforcement efforts by the Obama administration. Instead of raids, the Obama administration has focused its efforts on auditing and investigating employers to determine if they are satisfying the Form I-9 requirements and are knowingly or unwittingly employing illegal workers. Hector Chichoni, the Chair of EBG’s Southeastern Immigration Practice, notes: “this action by ICE underscores what the Immigration Law Group at EBG has been advising clients since the Obama administration took office. Businesses need comprehensive employment verification and related compliance plans in place because the civil and potentially criminal consequences of this enforcement strategy can be severe. Businesses that ignore this important aspect of their operations can face substantial fines that make compliance now not only good corporate citizenship, but also good risk management.”