President Trump’s zero tolerance policy in regards to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been a focus in the media as of late. As promised, ICE has stepped up its enforcement efforts for 2018.
While the recent debate over ICE’s activities in regards to immigrant families has overshadowed its enforcement efforts aimed at employers, with consulting powerhouses like Deloitte, Pricewaterhousecoopers, Booz Allen Hamilton, and formerly McKinsey and Company, providing assistance on data gathering and processing, ICE is becoming much better at enforcing immigration laws in regards to employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
The debate over ICE’s role in separating immigrant parents from their children has drawn a lot of political heat. Some Democrats have called for the abolishment of ICE. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s comments to CNN may have encapsulated the feelings towards the agency: “I don’t think ICE today is working as intended… I believe that it has become a deportation force.”
Republican officials also weighed in, but in support of the agency. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, in an op-ed in USA Today, said “ICE keeps us all safe, this isn’t a political debate – it’s real life… whether its border patrol, the national guard or ICE agents – these brave men and women are making these communities and our country safer.”
According to information released by ICE regarding their activity from October 1, 2017, through May 4, 2018, Homeland Security Investigations during this period have increased work environment cases by 3,510. Additionally, 2,282 I-9 audits have started. These results are already double the amount of ongoing worksite cases this fiscal year compared to the last fully completed fiscal year.
As an employer, here are some steps you can take to prepare your staff on what to do in the event of an ICE raid:
- Have an attorney readily available who can review any documentation that ICE should provide and be prepared to present documents of your own—especially I-9 forms.
- Ensure all I-9 forms are completed, correct, and handy. These forms are vital to your business and to your workers’ protection. If you notice mistakes, correct them and document the actions you took to correct the I-9 forms. Do not backdate forms to reflect corrections. Backdating I-9 forms is against the law and can land you in even more trouble.
- Keep I-9 forms on file for at least three years from the date of hiring the employee to one year after the employee leaves your business, whichever is later. While Form I-9 is not filed with a government agency, it must be available for inspection by the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, Labor, or Justice. It makes sense to keep your I-9 forms in a central location so they can be easily accessed if a government inspection occurs. Consider digitizing these forms and storing them in the cloud using a software like Humanefits.
- Make immigration compliance a priority for your team. Ensure that you have the right policies and procedures in place to address employment practices that can avoid illegal hiring practices. The quality of your employment records must be strong.
While the future of ICE may be part of a national debate on national immigration policy, employers should keep focused on the possibility of ICE raids and be sure they are prepared.