Immigration and Customs Enforcement is cracking down on employers across the nation. In the wake of national immigration and worksite raids, special ICE agents served Form I-9 notice of inspections to 77 northern California businesses in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento this week.
According to ICE, their actions reflect the Trump administration's priorities as it relates to enforcing the laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal employees, focusing on the protection of jobs for those who are legally authorized to work, and to improve public safety and national security.
No U.S. company is safe from receiving a notice of inspection, which only allows them 3 business days to hand over their hiring records. ICE audits, can come at random, to any size organization across all industries. James Schwab, Spokesman for ICE stated that “The audits targeted a mixture of businesses, restaurants, stores, factories and more - that are unrelated to each other.”
Just last month (January 2018) ICE targeted nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the country and served audit notices in 17 states, including California. 21 people suspected of being in the country illegally were arrested, The Associated Press reported.
Derek N. Benner, a top ICE official, stated at the time that the operation was "the first of many" to come.
Recently Thomas Homan, Deputy Director of ICE, told Fox News that the agency will significantly increase enforcement and warned California to “hold on tight.” Tom Homan has indicated he will be directing Homeland Security to significantly increase worksite enforcement efforts, including conducting more I-9 audits.
Employers should also note that the penalties for Form I-9 fines also increased due to inflation this week. In 2017 ICE worksite enforcement initiatives resulted in over $97 million in fines and forfeitures.
Compliance with employment eligibility laws is mandatory for every U.S. business, and with these recent enforcement actions, the responsibilities that fall on human resource departments and hiring managers need to be weighed heavily to ensure that their onboarding practices meet federal regulations – or risk facing the ramifications of noncompliance.
Those who are still using a paper-based and manual process face greater risk of failing an I-9 audit due to the the complex nature of Form I-9 and E-Verify laws.
There has never been a better time for U.S. employers to seriously consider implementing Form I-9 compliance solutions to reduce the risk of a failed audit, and to ensure a good-faith effort with legal requirements. Contact I-9 Advantage to learn more.