U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan said Tuesday that the agency will quadruple to quintuple the number of workplace inspections it conducts in the coming year. Homan spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. and made the remarks in response to a question about whether the agency is going to continue to conduct routine workplace investigations.
“We’re stepping up worksite enforcement,” he responded. Homan added that after assessing the percentage of time the agency spends on inspections, he recently ordered ICE’s investigative unit, Homeland Security Investigations, to increase worksite inspections by “four to five” times the current levels.
“We’re taking worksite enforcement very hard this year,” he said. “We’ve already increased the number of inspections and worksite operations—you’re going to see that significantly increase this next fiscal year.” He added that ICE will not only prosecute employers but will detain and deport undocumented workers found in such inspections.
Background: Homan’s comments come on the heels of the largest civil settlement levied by ICE. The case involved a nationwide tree company that agreed to pay $95 million, including $80 million in criminal forfeiture fines, to settle allegations that low-level managers knowingly employed undocumented workers while higher management remained “willfully blind” to the hiring practices. When the settlement was announced Sept. 28, Homan said that the case “sends a strong, clear message to employers who scheme to hire and retain a workforce of illegal immigrants: We will find you and hold you accountable.”
BAL Analysis: Employers should be aware of the agency’s mandate to step up inspections and are encouraged to conduct an internal audit to ensure that they are in compliance with Form I-9 requirements. BAL can assist in conducting a review and compliance audit of employers’ I-9 employment eligibility verification policies.
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