U.S. agents form Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are focusing their efforts on investigating and identifying employers who are suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants. This change in focus from rounding up illegal workers at worksites was announced in guidelines issued on April 30th.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seeks to target the root cause of illegal immigration through efforts that identify offending employers. The increase in investigations will contribute to the rising number of arrests and prosecutions for employers found to have knowingly hired illegal aliens.
What’s an employer to do?
Complete I-9 forms properly for all hires. If you don’t think they have been done properly or have questions start with an audit to identify weaknesses. When documentation is incomplete or missing it may require contacting employees and requesting that they complete a new form.
Once this process begins word gets out. If you have hired people who don’t have the authorization to work in the U.S. don’t be surprised if some employees just disappear. They may stop coming to work when they hear about your audit efforts or fail to return after you request back up documentation. You may end up firing an employee who cannot comply with the request to provide the documentation to satisfy I-9 requirements. Don’t ask for a specific document. You can show them the list on the form.
The proactive steps you take will help in responding to a government investigation. Using the U.S. E-Verify system will also help. When employers sign up for the program they receive complete instructions and training.
The pressure on employers is unlikely to decrease. Reduce the potential for investigation and legal action by ensuring that your processes comply with the law and the employees who complete this documentation are well trained.