Since the Trump administration took office, a significant focus has been placed on enforcement of immigration laws by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Acting ICE director Tom Homan advised in 2017 that immigration raids were likely to quintuple in 2018, with both undocumented workers and the places that employ them as targets.
That was not an exaggeration.
Information released by ICE on activity from October 1, 2017, through May 4, 2018, show that Homeland Security Investigations during this period have increased to 3,510 work environment cases. 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.
Arrest numbers are even more remarkable. ICE has made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite related arrests, a five-fold increase compared to the number of arrests in the previously completed fiscal year.
Acting Director of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Derek N. Benner said in a May press release: “Our worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.”
With ICE raids becoming more frequent, employers need to take action to prepare themselves in the event of an audit. Failure to take action could cost your organization–as one national employer found out when it was hit with $95 million in penalties.
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.
In the event of a notice of inspection by ICE, you are going to want to be prepared. Failing to do so could cost your organization.