U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to ramp up audits and worksite investigations, according to figures released by the agency last week.

ICE said that the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit has served I-9 Notice of Inspections (NOI) to more than 5,200 businesses since January. Most recently, in a five-day period earlier this month, the unit served 2,738 inspection notices and made 32 arrests. By comparison, ICE initiated 1,360 I-9 audits during the entire 2017 fiscal year.

ICE representatives said the investigations unit is undertaking an enforcement strategy that “focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.”

Key reminders:

  • Employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all new hires in the U.S. and to document the information using the Form I-9.
  • Companies that are served with an NOI by ICE to audit their records are given three business days to produce their Forms I-9, after which ICE will conduct a compliance inspection.
  • Employers who are found to be out of compliance will likely face heavy civil fines as well as possible criminal prosecution if they are found to have knowingly violated the law. Employees found to be without proper work authorization during investigations are subject to arrest and deportation.

BAL Analysis: The recently released figures from ICE are strong reminders of the federal government’s increased compliance activity under President Donald Trump. Employers are encouraged to conduct an internal audit of their Form I-9s and have protocols in place in the event that they are inspected by ICE. BAL’s compliance team can assist in conducting internal audits and preparing employers for a Form I-9 inspection.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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