U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided over 120 businesses in the first 5 days of 2018 in their efforts to find undocumented workers. Between 2/11/18 and 2/15/18, ICE agents visited 122 businesses. With the thousands of businesses in the U.S., these numbers can give companies a false sense of security, until your number is called.
The Trump 2019 budget calls for a 35% increase in civil fines and potential criminal prosecution for companies that hire undocumented workers.
You can take action now to limit your risk of an ICE raid:
#1 Ensure your I-9 forms are up-to-date and in their own separate folder, not in individual employee files.
#2 Complete I-9 forms if any are lost or missing.
ICE uses 2 methods for inspecting a company:
A. An audit.
B. A raid.
The audit is the most common way you might end up interacting with ICE. ICE will start the audit by sending a Notice of Inspection, which asks you to produce certain I-9 documents for inspection. ICE may also ask about other information for current and former employees. If you do receive this notice, be sure to contact your attorney as you may be able to secure a short extension. The audit primarily consists of verifying that your I-9 forms are properly completed. Once the review is complete, ICE will inform you of the results.
The best result of the audit is that you are in full compliance. With only minor violations, ICE may issue you a notice of technical or procedural failure indicating certain mistakes and giving you 10 business days to correct them. If there are significant violations, there will be monetary penalties. In the event of a raid, ICE will walk in with a search warrant and get to work. Be sure to copy the warrant and send it to your attorney. Being cooperative is the most important part of a raid and be sure not to
(1) hinder the work of the agents,
(2) shred documents,
(3) hide employees, or
(4) provide false information.
Many companies have a lackadaisical attitude toward completion of the I-9 form. But like most other labor relations issues, there is nothing like an investigation from a federal or state agency to make a company get serious about what seems like silly paperwork.
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