Yes, it’s a blunt, direct question and your immediate answer is most likely to be, “No.” But with Homeland Security redirecting efforts towards employers, it’s an inquiry that deserves more consideration.
Small Employers Too
Employers may think that they are unlikely to be on the radar for immigration enforcement, the government only goes after the big guys. Not true. This year a Maryland painting contractor pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring up to 24 illegal aliens and the owner of a Washington state engine re-manufacturing plant also acknowledged breaking the law by knowingly hiring 28 undocumented workers.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement describes an investigation that started after an employee reported seeing a supervisor tearing up W-2 forms with the reasoning that they did, “not matter since those employees were illegal anyway.”
These employers learned the hard way that knowingly hiring illegal aliens can result in hefty fines, probation and jail time. The publicity alone can do significant damage. Turning away when you know an employee is using false documentation is never a good idea.
How Does an Employer Know?
Employers are not expected to be experts but they should correctly complete the processing of I-9 forms that employees must complete to provide proof that they have the right to work in the U.S. This includes complying with time guidelines, checking documents and properly storing completed forms. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services publishes a Handbook for Employers; Instructions for Completing Form I-9 that contains step by step guidance.
When I conduct an I-9 audit or a random check for employers I always find something amiss. The most common mistakes, information in the wrong place, missing dates, won’t land an employer in jail but they could lead to recordkeeping fines and be cause for further investigation. Fixing I-9 forms and the process takes some time but it can be done.
Get the process started by joining me on October 22nd for a live AHI Web conference, “How to Prepare For An I-9 Audit: Before ICE Comes Calling.” The 90 minutes will answer many questions that I can’t cover on one page.