Seyfarth Synopsis: Following the wave of Notices of Inspection (NOI) at 77 Northern California businesses last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents are continuing to spread the cheer with NOIs targeting businesses in Southern California this week.  Serving NOIs throughout the greater Los Angeles area, the inspections appear industry agnostic.  The NOIs delivered by HSI agents and auditors notify businesses that they must produce their employees’ Forms I-9, Employment Eligibility Verifications within 72 hours.  The notices often include a list requesting additional company information and documents as well.

Local HSI offices are keeping ICE’s Deputy Director Thomas Homan’s promise of increasing its activities not just across the nation but more specifically targeting sanctuary cities and states like California.  It is important to note that businesses receiving the NOIs are not all within the service, manufacturing, agriculture, or traditional “infrastructure” sectors. Employers across industries should take a look at their Form I-9s and overall immigration compliance – the time to figure things out is not during the 72 hours after a NOI is issued.

Questions to start asking:

  • When was the last time an internal assessment was conducted?
  • Have we reviewed our Form I-9s and competed remediation – with the assistance of competent counsel? (Remember: remediation done improperly can create more liability.)
  • What procedures and protocols do we have to ensure employees are prepared to deal with visits from ICE? This is especially important in California following passage of AB 450.
  • How are we training and educating personnel that are responsible for I-9 compliance?
  • Where and how do we store our Form I-9s?
  • If our forms are completed electronically, how do we retrieve them, and is our system compliant with the regulations? Employers can and have been fined for non-compliance of vendor systems.  Check your contract to identify whether there is an indemnification clause.

It is never too early to start prioritizing immigration compliance and taking measured steps to limit liability—if you are a California business, this rings ever more true as ICE continues to shine a spotlight on the golden state.