Worksite Investigations Doubled to Combat Immigration
July 25, 2018
To combat illegal immigration, the Trump administration has announced an aggressive increase in worksite investigations and audits. Employers are required to verify that their employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. This has been federal law since 1986 and employers must document all hires with I-9 forms.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson said that investigations are conducted on suspicion of violations and can include an audit or review of business records. Businesses who have violated the law can receive criminal charges and/or civil fines.
Investigations Under Trump Have Doubled
ICE officials have already launched double the number of worksite investigations compared to the previous fiscal year. The number of audits is also nearly doubled with five months remaining in this fiscal year. During the last fiscal year, 1,360 audits began compared to 2,282 between October 1 and May 4 of the 2018 fiscal year.
The increase in investigations and audits has resulted in a significant increase of employer arrests. Four times the number of employers were found in criminal violation of immigration law compared to the previous fiscal year. So far, 594 employers have been arrested with more to come as ICE plans an increase in audits over the summer.
Nationwide Wave of Audits Planned
In a statement to the Associated Press, the head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit said that the agency has planned to step up audits all over the country this summer and has a strategy to open as many as 15,000 audits a year. This strategy depends on support and funding from other areas of the administration.
Instead of using regional offices to perform audits around the country, ICE plans to create an Employer Compliance Center to electronically scan documents to identify and flag suspicious activity. Employers would no longer receive audit notices in person. Instead, they would be delivered by certified mail or electronically.
Financial Consequences for Employers
ICE investigations and audits have resulted in significant financial consequences to employers. Over the past fiscal year, businesses have been ordered to pay $7.8 million in civil fines and $97.6 million in fines, restitution, and judicial forfeitures.
The ICE statement said it continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law. The agency intends to use I-9 audits and civil fines to maintain a culture of compliance. HSI says that their worksite investigations combat several illegal practices that include child labor, illegal wages, and worker exploitation.
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