On July 24, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release confirming that its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division had completed the second phase of a nationwide operation from July 16-20. HSI served 2,738 I-9 Notices of Inspection (NOIs[1]) to US businesses around the country after serving 2450 during its first phase earlier this year. In sum, HSI has now issued almost 5200 NOIs since the beginning of October 2017. Not only this, but HSI also has made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests. These numbers clearly indicate that ICE takes worksite enforcement very seriously and companies should prioritize a commitment to compliance. Fines for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers start at $559 per employee and can be as high as $22,363 for repeated offenses. Paperwork violations range from $224 to $2236. Companies may also face additional fines, penalties and forfeitures, and government contractors may face debarment from federal contracts.

In ICE’s press release, HSI reminded employers about its “three-pronged approach to worksite enforcement: compliance, form I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the criminal arrest of employers and administrative arrest of unauthorized workers; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.”

These events have been expected and actually follow prior comments by HSI officials that we previously reported, confirming that 2018 will be a year of increased immigration enforcement.

Continue Reading Baby It’s Cold Outside: ICE I-9 Audits Increase Over 100 Percent

This blog was first published as a Seyfarth Shaw Management Alert on July 17, 2018

By Dawn M. Lurie and Alexander Madrak

Seyfarth Synopsis: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increases worksite enforcement by more than 50%.  What should employers understand to prevent fines and minimize reputational risk?

Since the start of fiscal year 2018, ICE has increased worksite enforcement actions by over 50%.  Compared with fiscal year 2017, administrative arrests have increased nearly 400% while worksite investigations have risen from 1,716 to 3,510—with the last quarter of the fiscal year remaining for these numbers to increase.[1]  ICE appears to be making good on the remarks made by leadership to increase worksite enforcement “four to five times.”

Continue Reading ICE I-9 Audits on the Rise: Act Today to Prevent Issues Tomorrow

By Dawn M. Lurie and Greg Morano

In mid-April, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced long awaited enhancements to the program as part of the new “modernized E-Verify system”. In fact, the overhaul is enormous in scope, the new system is entirely separate from the previous itineration of E-Verify. From a data storage location shift to reinforcement of the old infrastructure, the bones of the system are being reinforced.  Employers will continue to maintain access to their old data while being able to open cases in the new system. The updates demonstrate USCIS’ continued focus on improving the system, which makes perfect sense in the face of a possible, nationwide, E-Verify mandate.

What is E-Verify

E-Verify is an internet based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to confirm employment eligibility. Continuously improving, but not perfect, the system struggles with cracks in its armor especially when it comes to ensuring identity. However, one of the key benefits of E-Verify is that employers are provided a rebuttable presumption that there has been no violation of the statute, with regard to the knowing hiring of an unauthorized worker, if the employee’s information has been confirmed by the system. This is important in the context of a Form I-9 inspection.

Continue Reading More than a Makeover: E-Verify Boast a New, Modernized Look Inside and Out