It’s hard to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle, especially these days. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) crack-down on foreign nationals hasn’t gotten a lot of air time as of late but we’re still closely monitoring the latest developments . Here’ what you need to know.
ICE work site Enforcement Overview
So far in 2018, ICE has more than tripled the number of audits compared to last year, and it’s only August. From October 1, 2017 through July 20, 2018, ICE/HSI ICE launched a two-phase operation to increase the number Notice of Inspections (NOIs)/I-9 audits.
“HSI’s work site enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law,” according to a recent ICE press release. These audits are ultimately meant to help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.
Phase 1: January 29-March 30
- 2,540 NOIs
- 61 arrests
Phase 2: July 16-July 20
- 2,738 NOIs
- 32 arrests
ICE Crackdown Summary
- 6,093 audits conducted since the crackdown launched in October 2017
- 675 criminal arrests
- 984 administrative work site-related arrests of those who falsify I-9s or employing workers without work authorization
- In Fiscal Year 2017 ICE issued $105.4 million in criminal and civil penalties against non-compliant business; based on the trends, this number will be at least tripled in 2018
What Happens During an ICE Audit?
HSI uses a three tiered approach to work site enforcement:
- Compliance: this includes I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment
- Enforcement: HIS uses criminal arrests of employers and administrative arrest of unauthorized workers;
- Outreach: in partnership with the government and employers, ICE tries to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.
What Happens After an ICE Audit?
After receiving an NOIs, employers are required to produce their company’s I-9s within three business day. ICE will then conduct an inspection for compliance.
If employers are not in compliance:
- An I-9 inspection of their business will likely result in civil fines
- It could lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution if they are knowingly violating the law
- All workers who are unauthorized to remain in the US are subject to arrest and removal from the country
ICE’s Position Moving Forward
Government officials show no signs of letting up when it comes to auditing employers for 1-9 compliance.
“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. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law,” says Derek Benner, Acting Executive Associate Director for HSI. “work site enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminates unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.”