Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff does not want to fine employers who take active steps to comply with I-9 processing requirements. In September Chertoff said, “We don’t fine people for honest errors. People get fined when they knowingly violate the law,” during remarks at The Brookings Institute.
Chertoff recommends using E-Verify, the federal electronic system to check identities for I-9 forms.. Federal contractors have been required to use E-Verify since June 8th of this year. Other employers can enroll in the program online and take advantage of information and training to make the process efficient and effective. Employers will not be fined if the information that they receive from E-Verify is flawed because an employee is using a stolen identity
When rising unemployment increases the pool of potential candidates some employers may be tempted to hire only US citizens to avoid potential immigration violations. Since I-9 forms are required for all hires, regardless of their immigration status, a citizen only hiring policy will not eliminate this administrative requirement. More importantly, employment decisions based on citizen status can creates the potential for problems that are much larger than administrative violations of I-9 compliance rules.
It is discriminatory for
employers to make hiring decisions based on national origin or immigration
status. The I-9 form should only be completed after a candidate is hired in
order to avoid any potential link between decision making and the type of work
authorization. Employers can ask, “If you are offered a position can you verify
that you are legally eligible to be employed in the
The potential for leniency on the part of Homeland Security should not be considered an excuse for sloppy I-9 processing. Employer representatives who are responsible for this compliance should be well trained and follow the required retention and storage steps. Internal audits should be completed to correct mistakes, prevent continued errors and provide additional proof of good faith efforts to comply with the law.