On January 30, President Donald Trump, who ran on a platform that heavily emphasized stricter immigration controls, appointed Thomas Homan as the acting director of ICE. . Since 2013, Homan has been the executive director of the ICE's enforcement and removal operations.
Homan will replace Daniel Ragsdale, who was serving as acting director and will return to his previous post as deputy director. John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, did not give a reason for Homan's ascension, only noting that the new ICE director "will continue to serve as a strong, effective leader for the men and women of ICE."
The enforcement and removal division of ICE is tasked with identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants discovered in the U.S. However, in recent years, the government has focused its efforts on employers that hire individuals not authorized to work in the U.S., or that otherwise violate certain hiring regulations such as Form I-9 rules.
The shift in ICE leadership should not be taken as an indication the agency will cease its efforts to enforce Form I-9 compliance in the same way it has in recent years. Instead, it's safe to assume ICE will continue to audit businesses' Form I-9s frequently. Employers should remain diligent about their efforts to keep staff educated on the Form I-9 and E-Verify.
The administrative inspection process is initiated by the service of a Notice of Inspection (NOI) upon an employer compelling the production of Forms I-9. Employers are usually provided with at least three business days to produce the Forms I-9.
ICE agents or auditors then conduct an inspection of the Forms I-9 for compliance. When technical, administrative, or procedural errors are found on the forms, the employer may receive a fine ranging from $216 to $2,156 per form.
Additionally, an employer found to have knowingly hired or continued to employ unauthorized workers may be subject to debarment by ICE, meaning that the employer will be prevented from participating in future federal contracts and from receiving other government benefits.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, employees from the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) at the Department of Justice, and employees from the Department of Labor may also inspect an employer’s Form I-9s. Officials may also use subpoenas and warrants to obtain the forms without providing 3 days’ notice.