In February we warned that ICE raids would be on the rise and true to the acting Director’s promise to increase action by 4 to 5 times they have been cracking down with form I-9 audits and raids. Phillips Lytle reports that raids made by the department in February investigated hundreds of businesses and their compliance with immigration regulations resulting in 21 arrests.
Last year ICE investigations brought in about $100 Million in forfeiture and $7.8 million in civil fines. Some of these fines come about from employer’s violations of the regulations surrounding identification and citizenship requirements for form I-9. You can read all about the various fines and requirements on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Compliance is essential to avoiding fines. If you are found in violation you will be forced to pay. You may be notified of an ICE audit and have time to prepare these documents, but if you are subject to an ICE raid you may not know until they arrive at your place of business.
When an ICE audit happens, there are certain steps taken to investigate the company involved as Lane Powell details. When ICE performs a form I-9 inspection they serve a notice to the business owner requesting that they provide social security numbers and form I-9’s for current and past employees. She stipulates that ICE may not ask for other personnel files and that ICE may accept copies of the form I-9 files rather than originals. Depending on whether all documents are available and in compliance the employer is allowed ten days to correct any issues with the documents. The business will be fined if they are unable to provide all documents requested or fix any other problems. Further fines may be levied if the company has unauthorized staff or if the company continues to employ unauthorized employees after finding their documentation was insufficient.
ICE raids are somewhat different and these entail ICE getting permission from a court to visit a business unannounced. With a search warrant in hand based on former audits or information like tips from employees or others, ICE can enter the work place and possibly arrest non-compliant employees with no warning.
While the author goes on to discuss good habits during a raid at HireSafe we are most interested in what happens prior to audits and raids. We want to ensure the more extreme steps taken by ICE never happen to your company and that starts with form I-9 compliance.
To avoid fines and raids it is best to take every step possible to ensure your company has valid form I-9’s for your current and past employees. HireSafe offers electronic Form I-9 verification and storage to make sure you are always compliant. To keep documents on hand whenever ICE visits our partner i9advantage keeps electronic copies of the validated form I-9 ensuring that if an ICE audit happens you will be ready to provide those documents no matter what. With all your compliant forms in one easily accessible location providing the documents necessary to navigate an audit is as easy as a few mouse clicks. If you’re interested in form I-9 services from HireSafe, request a consultation free of charge and one of our client specialists will discuss how HireSafe can help protect your business from steep fines.