It’s evident that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been active this past year. Expect that trend to continue in 2019 based on U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed budget for 2019.
In the Department of Homeland Security’s 2019 FY Budget Summary, a number of additions have been proposed to continue the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws with an increased emphasis on border security, immigration enforcement, and cybersecurity.
In 2019, the agency is asking for an additional $8.3 billion in funding for ICE, an increase of roughly 30% from 2017. The many initiatives proposed include hiring 2,000 ICE Agents, 750 border patrol agents, and 300 ICE homeland security auditors. Funds are also included to expand the use of E-Verify, the Internet-based system that compares available information across many national databases to confirm employment eligibility, to make it mandatory for all employers, not just federal contractors and certain state contractors and U.S. universities.
With ICE raids having expanded in 2018, the requested additions in funding and personnel are likely to make a significant impact to see even more ICE raids in 2019.
Here are some steps employers can take to review their employee verification process and be prepared for ICE raids:
- Ensure that you are capturing all the relevant employment authorization documents, such as the 1-9.
- Procedures should be in place for expiring I-9 forms. Employers should purge I-9s for employees that are no longer employed by the company. The excess of information, whether digital or physical, creates clutter that could be problematic in the future.
- Stay up to speed on the E-verify process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs E-verify, has an agreement in place to share information received through E-verify with ICE for enforcement purposes. USCIS will refer suspected employer and employee misuse, abuse, and fraudulent use of E-Verify to ICE for investigative consideration concerning matters within ICE’s jurisdiction.
- Make sure that employee verification processes are consistent across your organization. Standardize practices so that your employees are taking the same steps in documenting employees.
- Keep your staff updated on changes in federal laws and policies. Likewise, keep up to date in applicable changes in state laws as they may go beyond the federal law. Implement a process for utilizing state-specific onboarding forms that will also meet federal requirements.
- If you haven’t already, consider automating your compliance process. Doing so will create a readily accessible audit-trail for your defense in the event of an ICE raid.
Workforce management solutions like Humanefits can help organizations achieve compliance, through central storage recordkeeping, standardized onboarding procedures, and notification for critical updates on expiring I-9 forms.
As ICE continues with their enforcement, make sure you are taking the right steps in ensuring your organization is not at risk of an I-9 fine. Employers should keep focused on the possibility of ICE raids and be sure they are prepared and continue to watch for more I-9 updates as they are released.