Enforcement investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the past seven months were double of last year’s total, and employers can expect much more to come this summer.
Since October 2017, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations unit opened 3,510 worksite investigations, initiated 2,282 I-9 audits, and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan stated in October 2017 that his agency intends to quadruple worksite enforcement investigations.
Now, Derek Benner, head of the HSI unit reported to AP that another nationwide wave of audits planned this summer would push the total well-over 5,000 by Sept. 30 of this year.
“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,” Benner said.
He stressed that HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.
In Fiscal Year 2017, these kinds of actions against businesses netted $97 million in judicial forfeitures, fines and restitution, and $7.8 million in civil fines.
After receiving an inspection notice, employers have three days to produce I-9 records. If found not in compliance, civil penalties will be assessed.
Employees who are not legally in the U.S. may be detained and, ultimately, deported. The I-9 audits also can turn into criminal investigations in some circumstances.
“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records,” Benner declared. “All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law.”