One of the priorities of the Trump administration has been increased attention on immigration compliance, and in particular immigration from regions perceived by the administration as high security risks to the U.S. The Bureau of Immigration Compliance and Enforcement is understaffed right now. That said, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Worksite Enforcement Investigations Unit says there could be 10,000 new enforcement officers deployed to ensure that employers are following the law. Department head Jack Morris didn’t provide a timeline for the increase in enforcement personnel, but said that it’s clear that ICE intends to conduct more audits of employer compliance with the requirements of form I-9. The Form I-9 is used to verify employees’ identities and their authorization to work legally in the United States.
You can reduce your risk of a Form I-9 violation. Form I-9 compliance has been a standard checkpoint in Alternative HR’s audit process, a service that helps employers ensure that they are in compliance with the law before ICE performs an audit. In addition to the avoidance of potentially dizzying fines, complete and accurate documentation of employees’ immigration status can prevent business disruption due to the unexpected and immediate loss of employees. For example, a few years ago a local company lost 2/3 of its employees overnight when it was discovered that the candidates were using false IDs when they completed their I-9s.
Employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees on the basis of national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. At the same time, employers must make sure that each employee is authorized to be working.
From the US Citizenship and Immigration Service:
- Knowingly hired, or to have knowingly recruited or referred for a fee, an unauthorized alien for employment in the United States or to have knowingly continued to employ an unauthorized alien in the United States
- Failing to comply with Form I-9 employment verification requirements
- Committing or participating in document fraud for satisfying a requirement or benefit of the employment verification process or the INA
- Committing document abuse
- Unlawful discrimination against an employment-authorized individual in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee
- Failing to notify DHS of a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) of an employee’s employment eligibility
- Requiring an individual to post a bond or security or to pay an amount or otherwise to provide financial guarantee or indemnity against any potential liability arising under the employment verification requirements
- Engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized aliens
EMPLOYERS WHO VIOLATE THE LAW MAY BE SUBJECT TO:
- Civil fines
- Criminal penalties (when there is a pattern or practice of violations)
- Debarment from government contracts
- A court order requiring the payment of back pay to the individual discriminated against
- A court order requiring the employer to hire the individual discriminated against